The Supreme Court on Friday asked private hospitals if they were ready to charge Covid-19 patients rates fixed under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
“I just want to know if hospitals (are) ready to charge at Ayushman rates?” said Chief Justice S A Bobde, heading a three-judge bench, and asked the hospitals to respond.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, was hearing a petition by Advocate Sachin Jain, seeking “cost related regulations for treatment of COVID-19 patients at private/corporate hospitals”.
Taking it up on May 27, the court had asked, “Why can’t private hospitals, given land free of cost, treat COVID-19 patients for free?”
Responding to this, the Centre said in an affidavit that private hospitals are governed by the Clinical Establishments Act 2010 and there is no other legislation which gives it power to pass directions as prayed by the petitioner. It added that the court should hear the institutions before taking a decision.
On Friday, the CJI said the court is not speaking about all private hospitals but those running on land given by the government or charitable trusts.
Contesting the plea, Senior Advocate Harish Salve said hospitals that received land at concessional rates are providing free beds and treatment. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for an association of hospitals, also said the conditions are being complied with.
The petitioner then said he had filed an application requiring hospitals to treat at Ayushman Bharat rates. Jain pointed out that Covid-19 treatment packages are available in Ayushman Bharat and the average daily bill is Rs 4000. He prayed that the tariff under Ayushman Bharat should be made applicable to everybody.
The CJI asked if his case is that no hospital should make profit during this period.
The petitioner replied that he can show how the Ayushman Bharat scheme has been decided keeping in view profitability of the hospitals.
Salve said Ayushman Bharat is a heavily discounted scheme and added that revenue of private hospitals is down by 60 to 70 per cent as people are not visiting hospitals.
Rohatgi said the Delhi government has changed Sir Gangaram Hospital, which is a specialised hospital, into a general covid hospital.
“That is alright, you are making a sacrifice for a good cause,” observed the CJI.
“There is no business left. It will lead to closing down of hospitals,” he said.
SC seeks govt reply on price cap for treatment
The Supreme Court Friday sought the Centre’s response on a plea which sought a cap on the cost for treating COVID-19 patients in private hospitals.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, M R Shah and V Ramasubramanian asked the petitioner Avishek Goenka to give a copy of the petition to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
It asked the S-G to take instructions on the matter from the Centre within a week.
The plea said insurance companies were not reimbursing full expenses incurred in Covid treatment and submitted that this is “manifestly arbitrary” and that they be directed to “immediately settle, full claims, which are raised as per Government specified rates”.
He urged the court to issue directions to put in place a mechanism to fix rates for “similar categories of treatment, in similar rooms, in similar category of Private Hospitals”.
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