On Monday, the Kerala High Court approved the government order to regulate prices of COVID-19 treatment and related medical expenses in private hospitals. In addition to this move, the government has mandated that 50% of all beds in private hospitals will be reserved for COVID-19 patients.
The government order was dated May 10th, with the court mentioning that all admissions to hospitals here on after, will be governed by fixed rates. Private hospitals will be bound to these rates and any violation of the same will be strictly dealt with.
The Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagth, hailed the Kerala order as “fantastic”. The court was pleased with the order, and find the rates determined by the government to be reasonable. The government has currently capped the price for COVID-19 treatment in the general ward at Rs. 2500. This is inclusive of nursing, blood transfusion, boarding, and providing oxygen services. In addition, remdesivir and PPE kits will be sold at MRP. The cost of RT-PCR will be capped at Rs. 500.
The court also mandated that under the Kerala Clinical Establishments Act, officials will be in charge of grievance redressal in the case of overpricing.
The court highlighted how private hospitals have been “looting patients” with exorbitant prices charged for meals, anitbiotics, and PPE kits. It has ordered for a “workable solution” to such overpricing. In addition the court added that “Not one rupee of profit should be collected” in the functioning of the COVID-19 treatments in these hospitals. This is a welcome move by the Kerala Government as it checks private hospitals from doing what they’ve always done: prioritise profits over all else, even in the advent of a global pandemic.