Kerala HC stays state govt order allowing pvt hospitals to fix room rent for COVID patients

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday stayed a state government order permitting private hospitals to fix room rent for COVID-19 patients.

When counsel for the state government drew the court's attention to the matter, the high court said the new order "takes away much of the laudatory objective of its first order dated May 10, 2021, because, as is clear therefrom, the rates fixed for the beds includes all corollary charges like nursing, boarding, doctor's fee, etc".

Justice Devan Ramachandran said by allowing the private hospitals to fix any rate for their rooms and suites, they have become empowered to go back to the earlier situation in charges, albeit, with a condition that such rates be displayed prominently.

"We are of the view that such a display would be of no avail to an ordinary person who approaches for COVID-19 treatment. At that time, he would really have no choice, his life being in peril," the court said, staying the order.

According to the new order issued by the state health department, private hospitals can decide the rates for other categories of beds like private rooms and suites, and these rates shall be declared and displayed to the public prominently.

Last month, the high court had directed the state government to take steps to introduce a uniform tariff rate for COVID-19 treatment at private hospitals.

Expressing concern over the high treatment charges in private hospitals, the court had emphasised the need for rationalising COVID-19 treatment tariff in such facilities in the state.

(With inputs from PTI)

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