June 3, 2021 3:19:11 am
After receiving hundreds of complaints, the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments have started to crack down on private hospitals overcharging Covid-19 patients in the name of “procedure charges”.
Both states have issued notices to over 100 hospitals each, with the Telangana government cancelling the permit to treat Covid-19 patients of 22 hospitals in Hyderabad, including the Secunderabad branch of KIMS, Virinchi and Century Hospitals at Banjara Hills and Max Health at Kukatpally.
Telangana Director of Public Health G Srinivasa Rao said that 174 complaints were received against 113 hospitals and that showcause notices were issued to 105 hospitals. “These complaints were about overcharging for providing certain facilities, irrelevant charges, and excess charging on certain items. In some cases, the treatment was mismanaged or proper attention was not given to the patient,” Rao said.
The Health Department barred 16 hospitals on May 31 and six others on June 1 from admitting new Covid-19 patients. The hospitals have been directed to treat existing patients under their care and ensure that they are charged as per the existing norms and guidelines issued by the government.
In Andhra Pradesh, 16 hospitals have been fined amounts ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 6 lakh for overcharging Covid-19 patients, 46 hospitals have been booked for violating government rules and regulations, while another 50 hospitals have been issued showcause notices. Andhra Principal Secretary, Health, A K Singhal said hospitals found excess billing or levying frivolous charges would be fined 10 times the bill amount. Criminal cases would be filed against hospital authorities if they are found repeating the offence, under the Clinical Establishments Act, he said.
“Patients are getting bills amounting to Rs 10 lakh or more for a week’s admission. In many instances, hospitals charged Rs 5 lakh for medicines but when relatives of the patients ask what medicines or injections were given, the hospital administrations do not reply. In most of the cases, itemised billing is not done,” an official said.
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