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Plea In Kerala High Court Seeks Uniform COVID-19 Treatment Tariffs Across Private Hospitals, Labs, Diagnostic Centers

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
27 April 2021 7:24 AM GMT
Plea In Kerala High Court Seeks Uniform COVID-19 Treatment Tariffs Across Private Hospitals, Labs, Diagnostic Centers
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A petition has been moved in the Kerala High Court seeking direction to the state government to fix uniform COVID-19 treatment tariffs across private hospitals, labs, and diagnostic centers in the state. The petition was mentioned before a Vacation Bench of Justices Ashok Menon and Murali Purshothaman in the morning today. State Attorney KV Sohan took notice for the State Government and...

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A petition has been moved in the Kerala High Court seeking direction to the state government to fix uniform COVID-19 treatment tariffs across private hospitals, labs, and diagnostic centers in the state.

The petition was mentioned before a Vacation Bench of Justices Ashok Menon and Murali Purshothaman in the morning today. State Attorney KV Sohan took notice for the State Government and the State Director of Health Services and undertook to table before the Court a document with the state's stance. 

With this, the Court proceeded to post the matter on April 30.

At the hearing today, the petitioner's counsel submitted, "Petitioner seeks urgent and immediate action from government to consider the situation from the second wave of Covid-19". He contended that resources to tackle the pandemic were on the wane saying, "government hospitals are vastly filling up, no hospital, no bed, no ICU, no ventilator available in the hospital, patients are returning due to non-availability.

The counsel drew the Court's attention to the State's tariff guide for private hospitals, diagnostic centres etc. last year in the wake of the pandemic. 

When the Court heard this submission, Justice Menon instructed the State to go through the tariff guide and the petition and respond on the contentions.

Averring that private medical centers and testing centers in Kerala are charging high prices for diagnostic tests and treatment of Covid-19, the petition filed by one Advocate Sabu Thomas through Advocates CN Sreekumar, Manju Paul and Sureshkumar C contends that prices charged "exploit the pandemic situation and fear of people in the society."

The petition asserts that the state government is bound to take appropriate action or remedial measures to control regularize the high charges imposed by Private Hospital for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Terming the effective denial of access to Covid facilities as a failure by the government to assure to citizens the right to good health under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition states,

"Due to less numbers of Covid beds, ICU's and Ventilator facility in the Government Hospitals, the majority of the population, comes under middle and low income has deprived from the treatment due to unattainable charges of private hospitals…"

Therefore, the petition prays,

"The State Government should assure that the every citizen should be provided with facility to get adequate treatment through Government Health Services or else assure the treatment through other private facilities in the present rapid spread of Covid-19 and unavailability of beds, ICU's and Oxygen supported beds etc. in the Government Hospitals."

Citing these circumstances, the petitioner seeks -

  • A direction to the state to re-fix tariff for the private hospital/nursing homes for the treatment of Covid-19 patients including charges of laboratories and Diagnostic Centers
  • A direction to ensure free treatment for Covid-19 patients below poverty in both Government and Private Hospitals;
  • A direction to set in place an arrangement for setting up temporary hospitals facilities in the state to treat the patients with basic symptoms of Covid-19;
  • Direction to the State Government, Director of Health Services and the ICMR to display availability of normal beds, ICUs and Ventilator facility in all Government Hospitals, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes on a real-time basis
  • A direction to State Government and Director of Health Services ensure the adequate, continuous and regular supply of Oxygen to the hospitals in the state;
  • Other reliefs as may be deemed fit

In the interim, the petitioner pleads for a direction to direct the state to re-fix tariff for the private hospital/nursing homes for the treatment of Covid-19 patients including charges of laboratories and Diagnostic Centers.

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