Naming at least four private hospitals, India’s drug pricing watchdog said that the hospitals are arm twisting both consumers and manufacturers in order to charge exorbitant prices. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Naming at least four private hospitals, India’s drug pricing watchdog said that the hospitals are arm twisting both consumers and manufacturers in order to charge exorbitant prices. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Complaints over medical bills: Centre seeks states’ response

Govt seeks response from all states on implementation of the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010 that aims to monitor, assess and regulate laboratories, hospitals and health centres

New Delhi: With complaints mounting against private hospitals over inflated medical bills, the ministry of health and family welfare has sought a response from all states on implementation of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 that aims to monitor, assess and regulate laboratories, hospitals and health centres.

The Act that has been enacted by the Central Government aims at registration and regulation of all clinical establishments in the country, prescribing minimum standards of facilities and services provided by them at a reasonable charge.

“The states have been asked to take immediate action for determining the standard procedure cost for some common procedures in consultation with both Government and Private sector medical experts including professional associations. The rates of procedures and services should be transparent and should be inclusive of everything," said Sudhir Kumar joint secretary, Union health ministry.

“Only one rate has to be informed to the patients and the same should be charged till discharge of the patient. Most of the states are yet to prescribe rates of procedures and services under the Act. Only few states have constituted technical committees in this regard," he said.

The Union health ministry in September 2017 sent a letter to the Delhi government for adoption of the Clinical Establishments Act, but has not received a response so far.

“We have been writing to the states to implement the Act so that the problem can be solved. It is still pending with Delhi government and many other states," he added.

With the number of private hospitals increasing the health ministry has been receiving many complaints regarding unnecessary investigations and financial exploitation of patients.

“The patients do not come to know the price which will be finally charged by health facilities especially in case of corporate hospitals," said Kumar.

According to an analysis by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), released on Tuesday private hospitals in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR) are making profits of up to 1,700% on drugs, diagnostics and consumables and forcing consumers to buy from their in-house pharmacies.

Naming at least four private hospitals, India’s drug pricing watchdog said that the hospitals are arm twisting both consumers and manufacturers in order to charge exorbitant prices. NPPA’s analysis follows complaints of overcharging from families of patients who have died of dengue and other ailments in noted private hospitals in recent months in the national capital. “Patients in all cases had complained that the initial estimate of expenditure got inflated by three to four times," NPPA said in its report.

The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 has been in effect in the four states—Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim—and all Union Territories except Delhi since 1 March 2012.

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam have also adopted the Act under clause (1) of article 252 of the Constitution. The Act is applicable to all types (both therapeutic and diagnostic types) of clinical establishments from the public and private sectors, belonging to all recognized systems of medicine, including single doctor clinics.

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