Cap Covid-19 treatment cost at private hospitals: Centre to states

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Union health ministry on Monday directed the states to fix a price for coronavirus disease (covid-19) treatment in private hospitals after consultation with the sector as there have been reports of overcharging by private hospitals offering Covid-19 care.

“…have consultations with the local private healthcare providers and arrive at reasonable rates, while factoring in cost elements for personal safety equipments for healthcare providers. It has been suggested that the rates, once fixed, must be widely publicized so that both the patients and service providers are fully aware and capacities are used optimally,” said health ministry in a statement.

The health minister pointed out that certain states have already taken initiative, and reached an agreement with the private sector on reasonable rates and arrangements to provide critical care for in-patients.

“PMJAY package and Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) package rates are already available with the States. The latter rates are fixed area wise.”

As there have also been reports of shortage of critical beds in certain states, the centre has also asked states to engage with the private sector for scaling up health care infrastructure to meet the shortage of hospitals with intensive care unit beds, ventilators, oxygen supported beds etc, for treatment Covid-19.

“States have also been asked to proactively engage with the private sector health providers and consider pooling in public and private healthcare facilities, as this will help in providing prompt, good quality and reasonable health care to Covid-19 patients.”

As the Covid cases rise there has been an increased demand for critical care beds.

As of now India has 958 dedicated Covid-19 hospitals, with 1,67,883 isolation beds, 21,614 intensive care unit beds and 73,469 oxygen supported beds. There are 2,313 dedicated Covid health centres with 1,33,037 Isolation beds; 10,748 ICU beds and 46,635 oxygen supported beds have also been operationalised.

In 7,525 Covid care centres there are 7,10,642 beds now available in the country. There are currently 21,494 ventilators available for covid beds.

“Private sector does not mind pitching in but what the government must keep in mind is that there is a fixed cost involved in testing and treating Covid-19 patients, and it is not possible to go below a certain price bracket. The plan should be designed in such as way that those who can pay should be allowed to pay and those who cannot must be provided services free of cost or at subsidized rates,” said a senior private lab owner in Delhi.

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