SC notice to Centre for regulating virus treatment fees

SC notice to Centre on PIL for regulating fees of COVID-19 treatment by Pvt hospitals

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL to regulate the cost of COVID-19 treatment at private and corporate hospitals, which were exploiting the situation by charging Rs 10 to 12 lakh from one patient in the national calamity.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice Aniruddha Bose sought a response from the Union government on the petition filed by advocate Sachin Jain.

The petitioner contended a patient was being charged Rs 10 to 12 lakh, though the treatment did not involve any surgery. The hospitals merely provided beds and medicines.

He said there should be some regulation on the upper limit of the fees charged by the private and corporate hospitals. He submitted the private hospitals running on public land or the land allotted at a concessional rate to treat COVID-19 patients pro bono or on a no-profit basis.

The court decided to consider the matter, saying let the government explain it.

The petitioner said many private Hospitals were exploiting the patients suffering from COVID-19 to make a fortune out of miseries in the hour of national crisis. He also pointed out that a large number of people in the country did not have insurance cover, requiring urgent intervention to determine as what could be the fate of common men in case pandemic grew and the healthcare sector reached a saturation level.

Jain contended the tariff structure of private hospitals should be regulated so as to make them affordable and accessible for the general public and to save human life.

He submitted the Union government was competent to issue such directions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

In his plea, the petitioner said the government should bear the cost of treatment of those who neither had any means nor were covered under any insurance or Ayushman Bharat scheme. He said the government should identify the hospitals involved in black marketing of essential health services at the hour of national calamity and take effective steps for their prosecution.