NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Central government to identify and prepare a list of hospitals where treatment to treat covid-19 patients can be given free of cost or at a minimum fee. The order was passed in a plea seeking regulation of covid-19 treatments costs across private and corporate hospitals in the country.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, listed the case for hearing next week.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that the capping the treatment cost or providing free treatment is a policy issue and requires to be decided by the government. He also sought time to file a detailed response to the petition.
The petition, filed by Advocate Sachin Jain, has cited that as much as Rs12 Lakh is being asked for covid-19 treatment in certain private hospitals.
He has sought directions from the top court for the government to issue notification regarding nationwide cost regulations for covid-19 treatment at private hospitals.
As per the petitioner, the hospitals are commercially exploiting the patients and making a “fortune out of their miseries in an hour of national crisis."
Directions have also been sought for the private hospitals to treat covid-19 patients “pro-bono" in cases where the hospital has been built on public land or is categorized under “charitable institutions".
The petitioner pleads directions for the government to issue similar notification as issued earlier wherein a pricing cap was imposed for covid-19 testing at private labs. Similar cost regulation should be imposed for treatment as well, submitted the petitioner.
Plea has also been made for the government to cover medical expense of people who are poor and not covered under any insurance plan.