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Opinion

‘Exorbitant? Opt for government facilities’: HC in petition seeking cap for Covid-19 charges in private hospitals

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The Bombay High Court in Goa has resolved a petition challenging the Goan government’s inaction on the high fees charged by private hospitals to test and treat Covid-19 patients.

The High Court accepted the Goa government’s assertion that “if anyone finds the fees unaffordable, it is always open to those people to use the government facilities, free of charge.”

“Given that most of the issues raised in this petition are the subject of the auto suo motu petition pending before the Honorable Supreme Court, it will not be appropriate for this Court to rule on the same issues. The presentation / statement made by the Advocate General regarding the Covid testing fees, to a large extent, also corrects the complaint on this issue, ”stated the HC.

In his petition, Dr. Aquaviva Fernandes, a physician, said that the rates are “arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory, thus violating the fundamental rights enshrined in articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and should be reviewed and modified in favor of the interest of public health and safety in general “.

Last year, the Goa government set limits on charges for the treatment of Covid-19 that were deemed “astronomical.” According to the notification, a private hospital may charge a room rent not to exceed Rs 12,000 per day for a bed in a general ward, Rs 15,000 per day for a shared double room, Rs 18,000 per day for a single private room, and 25,000 rupees. per day for a bed in an ICU with a ventilator.

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Dr. Fernandes noted that the capped rates in some other states were much lower than Goa, which has by far the highest rates among other states in India. He noted that rates in other states, such as Tamil Nadu (Rs 2,500), Uttar Pradesh (Rs 1,600), Maharashtra (Rs 2,200), Kerala (Rs 2,750) and Delhi (Rs 2,400), were much lower than Goa.

Dr. Fernandes had also argued that “the poor conditions prevailing in government-run hospitals and overloaded infrastructure deter the general public from being admitted to government hospitals.

“[On account of] With the low admission capacity of Covid-19 patients and the excessively overcrowded wards in government hospitals, symptomatic Covid-19 positive patients are forced to move from one pillar to another in search of admission, and are ultimately seen forced to resort to treatment in private hospitals, ”Dr. Fernandes said in his petition.

At the time the petition was filed in early October last year, Goa was at its peak of the Covid-19 crisis with images of patients sleeping on the floor of the state’s main medical research facility – the Hospital. and Goa Medical College. – as well as the shortage of beds in government-run facilities.

Since then, however, the situation has improved and Goa’s active cases are now only around 900, down from 3,000 cases back then.

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