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Kerala HC orders private hospitals to follow capped price issued by govt for COVID treatment

ANI | Updated: May 10, 2021 21:47 IST

Kochi (Kerala) [India], May 10 (ANI): The Kerala High Court on Monday heard a plea moved against the exorbitant charges being charged by the private hospitals for the COVID-19 treatment in the state and ordered them to follow the capped price issued by the Kerala government for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

According to the bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath noted that PPE kits are priced at Rs 22,000 and even Kanji (rice porridge) is being given at Rs 1,300.

"We found unconscionable billings, Rs 22,000 for PPE kits. Look at the bills. We saw our humble Kanji is charged at Rs. 1300. Dolo is charged at Rs. 30-40. Imagine the plight of a citizen who earns Rs 1000 and sees a bill of 2-3 lakhs… You are looting people, the court said, according to a report by Bar and Bench, an online portal for legal news in the country.

“We are seeing infections rising rapidly. This is not an isolated case. Anyone can catch the infection now. Think about it, we have to intervene now," the court added.

The remarks were made after the private hospitals opposed a government decision to cap the price for treatment of COVID-19 at private hospitals.

During the hearing, the State counsel informed the Court that the state government has issued an order in this regard.

According to the counsel said as per the government’s order, the price for the general ward would be Rs 2,645, including registration, bed, nursing and boarding, blood transfusion, oxygen, X-ray, consultation and diagnosis and that expenses for costly medicines like Remdesivir will be separate. The rate for the RT-PCR test would remain at Rs 500 as fixed by the state government earlier, the counsel said.

“A penalty of ten times the rate will be imposed in case of overcharging,” the counsel pointed out.

The bench appreciated the state government and said, “We are happy that the government has come with our order. We will let the government order operate. Let us see how it goes.”

The court also noted that similar orders have been issued by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

“Because of the pandemic, you are having 100 per cent occupancy. Normally it is on 50-60 per cent. Learn to average your costs. All bills raised after order, henceforth, will be governed by the order issued by the state government. Any admission and bills prior to this bill will be governed by the then rates," the Court added. (ANI)