Provide free treatment to poor, HC tells pvt hospitals
In a judgment that could ensure affordability of quality healthcare to the poor, the High Court on Tuesday directed private hospitals to offer free treatment to 20 per cent of their inpatients who come under the below poverty line (BPL) category.
Hearing a 13-year-old petition by Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, and 28 others, who had moved the High Court against the custom duties levied against them for importing machineries, the division bench directed private hospitals to offer free medical aid to 20 per cent of its total number of patients getting admitted annually.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri, also asked the hospitals to file affidavit in a month to know details related to new schemes which will be in effect for a period of 20 years. It also asked them to make suggestions, if any.
Stating that the same shall be placed before the Union government through the assistant solicitor general for consideration, the bench said the implementation should begin in six months after the affidavit is filed. Prasar Bharathi should take up the matter to advertise the free treatment facilities available with the hospitals.
The court asked the state government to frequently issue press releases on the facilities. If the hospitals fail to implement the directions, the Central government-nominated agencies or authorities will look into the matter. It also directed the hospitals to maintain records of the treatment offered for a period of one year which will be scrutinised by the Central government authorities.
In case the parties agreed to the directions, the court has directed the Union
government to refund the bonds and bank guarantees, which will be deemed to cancellation.
“Hospitals which do not file affidavit in a manner expressed hereby shall proceed in consonance with Supreme Court direction dated October 24, 2010. Instant deliberation and order by the apex court shall be carried out in six months from today,” the court said.
The petitioners had moved the HC challenging a showcause notice issued by the Customs department in 1998 over the non payment of duty. The hospitals were given an exemption of import duties based on their obligation that 10 per cent of inpatients having a monthly income below Rs 500 and 40 per cent of outpatients would be treated free in 1988.