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Photo: Mint

SC notice to Centre on plea to regulate covid-19 costs across private hospitals

Petitioner alleges that Rs12 Lakh is being charged for Covid-19 treatment in certain private hospitals

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre in a plea seeking regulation of COVID-19 treatments costs across private and corporate hospitals in the country.

A two judge bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justice Anirudda Bose heard the case through video conferencing and issued notice to Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

The petition has been filed by Advocate Sachin Jain and he appeared in person arguing that 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 for private hospitals.

As per the petitioner, the hospitals are commercially exploiting the patients and making a “fortune out of their miseries in the 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 issues similar notification as issued earlier under the provisions of Disaster management Act, 2005 wherein a pricing cap was imposed for covid-19 testing in the private labs, which was applicable across the country. 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.

The petitioner gave reference of news reports and alleged that inflated hospitals bills are being passed on to insurance companies. As per the petitioner, a reputed insurance company has confirmed that it had, till April 2, settled 41 insurance claims of Covid-19 and the maximum amounted to 6.5 lakh. Another well-known insurance company has stated that it has been receiving an average claim size of 5-6 lakh for treatment of Covid-19 patients at private hospitals.

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