Govt panel recommends capping private hospitals' fees for treating Covid-19

A Niti Aayog committee set up by Home Minister Amit Shah, has recommended capping the rates charged by private hospitals in Delhi for isolation beds, intensive care units with and without ventilator support to ‘provide relief to the common man’ as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the national capital.

Home ministry in a tweet said, “Committee has recommended Rs 8000-10000, 13000-15000 & 15000-18000 including PPE costs for isolation bed, ICUs without & with ventilator respectively to all hospitals as compared to the current charges of Rs 24000-25000, 34000-43000 & 44000-54000 (excluding PPE cost).”

“Keeping in view the national emergency, FICCI members accept the government's decision on cost of Covid-19 treatment in Delhi, though it may not be financially sustainable. Private medical facilities stand by with the government and will ensure that they contribute to the best of their abilities and that all facilities required for the Covid-19 treatment are made available to the government,” said Alok Roy, chair-FICCI Health Services Committee & chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals.

The Supreme Court on Friday, while hearing the petition on lapses in care of Covid-19 patients in different hospitals in the national capital territory of Delhi and other States said, “We impress upon Government of NCT of Delhi to be more vigilant in knowing about the deficiency and lapses in functioning of the hospitals and patients care and take immediate and remedial steps to redeem the miseries of patients, the public who needs medical care and help.”

On April 30, the Supreme Court had sought the response of the government on a plea filed by advocate Sachin Jain, alleging that private hospitals are "commercially exploiting" patients suffering from coronavirus in this hour of crisis. It had asked the government to identify a list of private hospitals which can treat Covid-19 patients free or at a minimum cost. The top court recently also pulled up the state governments for mismanagement of the pandemic calling the situation deplorable and horrific.
"The government may not be aware of the expenses in the private sector. There has to be a realistic estimate on what costs the institutions bear, be it on PPEs or isolation facilities, or quarantining and rotating their staff," H S Chhabra, medical director of Indian Spinal Injuries Center said.

Chhabra further pointed out that while elective surgeries had almost stopped, the fixed expenses remained. "How will private hospitals survive as their turnovers have reduced? Some countries have support packages for hospitals. India does not have any such package. We need to consider the fact that institutions need to survive, and if they collapse, it defeats the whole purpose," he added.

Industry sources said that hospitals had seen revenues topple due to a 60-80 per cent decline in patient footfalls, leading to estimated operational losses of Rs 4,500 crore per month. “Many small hospitals and nursing homes in tier II & III cities have become almost non-operational due to the challenges of liquidity and cash flow,” Roy added.

Experts said that the present gap was not public versus private, but how all the capacity of India could be leveraged to serve the needs of the population.

“A collaborative approach, wherein stakeholders work together to enhance the capability of the healthcare system is critical...It is essential that the private healthcare sector in Delhi as well as other states which is ready to support the Government “survives to serve,” said Preetha Reddy, vice chairperson, Apollo Hospitals and also president of Nathealth, a hospitals and diagnostics sector industry body.

Ramping up testing

Home Ministry also said that the sample testing had also been doubled in Delhi after Shah’s intervention. “A total of testing samples of 27,263 have been collected in #Delhi from 15 to 17 June 2020 against the daily collection which varied between 4,000-4,500 earlier,” spokesperson, home affairs ministry said in a tweet.

Delhi has also started testing through a rapid antigen testing method on Thursday to increase the testing capacity and quick delivery of results. Nearly 7,040 people have been tested in 193 testing centres. “Testing will continue with increased numbers in coming days,” another tweet said.

The home ministry also said that a house to house health survey in 242 containment zones of Delhi was completed yesterday and a total of 2,30,000 people had been surveyed.

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