HC directs govt to ensure uniform rates for COVID-19 treatment in Kerala
Kochi: Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the state government to ensure uniform rates for COVID-19 treatment across hospitals in the state.
The HC observed this while considering a PIL seeking uniform treatment rates for COVID-19 across hospitals in Kerala.
State Attorney KV Sohan has sought a directive to all private hospitals in the state to stand together to battle the pandemic. The Court posted the matter to Monday.
"The government will publish the order regularising and fixing rates/charges for COVID-19 treatment by private hospitals based on the facilities available in different classes of hospitals. Lists of empanelled hospitals will be published from time to time for COVID-19 treatment," the state government informed the court.
"An appellate authority at the state level will also be designated. An authority for examining the complaint/grievances regarding overcharging by private hospitals at the district level will be designated," it added.
The Division Bench, headed by Justice Devanan Ramachandran, observed, "We completely appreciate the stance of the Kerala government."
The Court added, "We suggest a toll free number for COVID-19, just a number like 100. If you are able to give us a toll free number that can trigger the entire system, that will be great. Second is a patient management system. For instance, every patient may not require hospitalisation, you can tell them they can remain at home. There should be categories of patients with treatment fixed accordingly."
"Non-empanelled hospitals have been asked to fix 50 per cent beds. We have strictly ensure these beds are reserved. 50 per cent beds in empanelled hospitals not earmarked for COVID treatment are not regulated. Regarding non-empanelled hospitals, we need rates for 50 per cent beds earmarked for COVID-19. Walk-in patients go to private hospitals, they do not have any option, this will have to be regulated," it further said.
The government's order can say that consumables should be charged pro rata. It is easy to regulate. As far as pathological rates are concerned, make sure only actuals are charged.
The Court directed all other counsels appearing for Private Hospital Association, Indian Medical Association (IMA), etc. to submit their suggestions to the State Attorney.