Private hospitals in Telangana oppose move to cap Covid-19 treatment cost

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Private hospitals in Telangana say they will petition the state government over the upper limit fixed by it regarding the treatment of a Covid-19 patient in their hospitals.

A meeting of various private hospitals in the state would be held in Hyderabad on Wednesday to discuss the implications of the government’s order and request it to reconsider its decision.

“We shall work out the actual costs to be incurred by the private hospitals to treat a Covid-19 patient. We shall come out with a formula and place it before the government. We are planning to seek an appointment with the health minister and other senior officials shortly,” Dr B Bhaskar Rao, president of Telangana Super-speciality Private Hospitals’ Association, told Hindustan Times.

The Telangana government, which announced on Sunday that the private hospitals would be allowed to admit and treat Covid-19 patients in the state, issued an order on Monday capping the cost of treatment for such patients.

According to the order issued by special chief secretary (medical and health) A Santhi Kumari, the cost of the package to be charged by the private hospitals, including corporate hospitals, cannot exceed Rs 4,000 per day in normal wards (including isolation), Rs 7,500 in Intensive Care Units (ICU) without ventilator and Rs 9,000 with ventilator support.

“The package includes monitoring (of patient) and investigations like CBC, urine routine, anti-HIV, ultrasound, ECG, 2D Echo, X-ray etc, apart from drugs, consultations, bed charges, meals and procedures like urinary tract catheterisation etc,” the order said.

The hospitals, however, could charge additionally for PPE, interventional procedures like bronchoscopy, biopsy and pleural tapping, administration of high-end drugs and high-end investigations like CT-Scan, MRI, PET scan, etc.

“We do not know how the government has arrived at this figure of upper limit of treatment cost for Covid-19 in private hospitals. The officials have neither consulted us nor discussed with us the cost of treatment for Covid-19,” Bhaskar Rao said.

The private hospitals, Rao underscored, have to make a lot of arrangements for treating the Covid-19 patients.

“We have to create separate isolation facilities, wards and ICUs without causing any inconvenience for other patients. We have to have dedicated manpower, including doctors and para-medical staff, exclusively to deal with Covid-19 patients, as they are not supposed to attend to other patients. We have to provide them PPEs and other facilities. The cost of treatment has to be worked out taking into consideration all these factors,” Rao pointed out.

Upon being told that private hospitals are allowed to charge extra for antibiotic injections, various other procedures and creating additional facilities, Rao said there was no clarity from the government in this regard.

“For example, we cannot use the equipment like a ventilator used for Covid-19 patients for other patients immediately. We have to fumigate the equipment thoroughly before using it again,” he said.

The association president wondered why the government should worry about charging the Covid-19 patients by private hospitals. “Only those who can afford treatment will come to us. There are enough government hospitals to provide free and affordable treatment to other Covid-19 patients. Even Gandhi Hospital still has enough beds. Only if the government hospitals are insufficient to tackle the huge number of cases, the patients will come to private hospitals,” Rao argued.

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