High tariff for COVID-19 treatment unacceptable: Kerala HC

High Court

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday slammed private hospitals for charging exorbitant rates for COVID-19 treatment. 

"The court gas received hospital bills of 2 to 3 lakhs for Covid treatment. This needs to be strictly monitored," the Kerala HC said.

The court directed the state government to take steps to introduce a uniform tariff rate for COVID-19 treatment at private hospitals across the state.

Expressing concern over the high treatment charges in private hospitals, a division bench of the high court, comprising Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath, emphasised the need for rationalising the COVID-19 treatment tariff in such facilities in the state.

In his remarks, Justice Devan Ramachandran said, "When the public is putting all their life savings (for treatment), the private hospitals can also sacrifice."

The court expressed hope that this situation will continue only for a few months. It directed the state government to take a decision on the matter by Monday.

The court was considering a plea alleging that private hospitals and testing centres were charging high bills to "exploit the pandemic situation and fear of people in the society."

The petitioner, a lawyer, sought directions from the court to take remedial measures to regularise the high charges imposed by the private hospital for COVID-19 treatment.

Referring to certain COVID-19 bills charged by the private hospitals, the high court said some of the hospitals were charging their patients a high amount for PPE Kits per day and taking Rs 40,000 for oxygen. The court said this has to be regulated. The court showed bills of hospitals charging Rs 16,000 to 17,000 for PPE kits for two days.

Andhra Model

The state should fix auniform tariff rate similar to Andhra Pradesh, the court said.

In view of the spike in COVID cases in the state, the court directed the government to consider taking over the unused hospital buildings for treating coronavirus patients. 

It also directed the state government to consider appointing sectoral magistrates for supervision of hospitals.

The court also suggested uniform charges for doctor and nurse consultation. It also suggested a toll-free Helpline Number exclusively for COVID-19 so that people could get guidance easily in case they needed details of beds in hospitals and other information on treatment.

(With PTI inputs.)

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