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Kerala High Court suspends government order allowing private hospitals to fix room rent for Covid-19 patients

The Division Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath passed this order while hearing a petition filed by the Kerala Private Hospitals Association.

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The Kerala High Court on Wednesday suspended a Kerala Government order that authorized private hospitals to fix room rents for treatment of Covid-19 patients.

The Division Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath passed this order while hearing a petition filed by the Kerala Private Hospitals Association.

S. Kannan, the Government Advocate, appearing on behalf of the State and its functionaries, informed the Court that Government has now issued an order on June 16, 2021 – producing it along with a memo dated June 22, 2021 – supplementing the tariff fixed for private hospitals – through the earlier order dated May 10, 2021 – allowing them to decide the rates “for other categories of beds like private rooms and suites”.

“Without requirement of expatiation, what has been now done by the Government through this order is to allow the private hospitals to fix any rate for the rooms and suites and this takes away much of the laudatory objective of its first order dated May 10, 2021 because, as is clear therefrom, the rates fixed for the beds includes all corollary charges like nursing, boarding, doctor’s fee, etc. Now, by allowing the private hospitals to fix any rate for their rooms and suites, they have become empowered to go back to the earlier situation in charges, albeit, with a condition that such rates be displayed prominently.

We are of the view that such a display would be of no avail to an ordinary person who approaches for Covid-19 treatment, since, at that time, he would really have no choice, his life being in peril,” the Court observed.

Apart from this, there are some issues with respect to the treatment of ‘pre -existing co-morbidities’, which the counsel for the review petitioner, K. Anand, said that the order does not offer a clear meaning. According to him, if a Covid-19 patient had pre-existing co-morbidities during hospitalisation, treatment for the same should also be excluded.

Read Also: Bombay High Court satisfied with state guidelines on home vaccination for elderly and disabled

Kannan prayed to the Court that a week’s time be granted to the State to respond appropriately, saying that all issues will be properly considered in the meanwhile.

The Court held, “Our mind certainly travel to more aspects to say, but we choose to refrain from doing so because an opportunity must be given to the State to consider the issues in its right perspective. However, in the meanwhile, we cannot allow the Government Order dated June  16, 2021 to operate for the reasons stated above and therefore, deem it appropriate to suspend it till the next hearing date.”

“List the matter on June 30, until which time the Government Order dated June 16, 2021 will remain suspended,” the Court ordered.

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