Saturday, September 30, 2023

SC Seeks Centre’s Reply On PIL Seeking Cap On COVID19 Treatment Fees In Private Hospitals

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The Supreme Court of India today had sought reply from the Government of India in PIL seeking a cap on fees to be charged by private hospitals in treating COVID patients.

Petitioner Avishek Goenka has informed the court that private hospitals are charging exorbitant fees from COVID19 patients making it inaccessible to most COVID19 patients.

On which, Supreme Court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, M R Shah and V Ramasubramanian asked the Solicitor General of India Mr. Tushar Mehta to file Centre’s response on putting an upper limit on fees to be charged by private hospitals for treating Covid patients.

A similar matter was listed before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde today, where the court has asked Centre that whether private/charitable hospitals, which got land free from government, could be asked to treat COVID19 patients free of cost. Thereafter, the Centre has already filed an affidavit saying it did not have statutory power to direct private hospitals to treat COVID19 patients free of cost.

PIL was filed in the Apex Court seeking directions to the Central Government for fixation of Cap on fees of treatment for COIVD-19 patients in Private Hospitals to avoid arbitrary rejection of insurance claims.

The failure of respondents in giving a broad-based cost of treatment to Private Hospitals qua COVID-19 patients and consequent irrational charging by them impinges upon rights guaranteed to the patients under Article 21 of the constitution”, said the Petitioner.

It was also said in the petition that the Respondent Central Government are unable to offer enough beds in – Private Hospitals, where treatment can be available for Post Covid-19 Infection, to the patients who can afford the same and in the process, many of the affluent are being kept in Government facilities, which are not upto the standards, which the affluent are used to and hence adding to their existing misery.

The petitioner further mentioned that by allowing the person who can afford to go the centers of their choice, it will reduce the burden on government Hospitals which could be put to better use for the needy people and in the face of a pandemic like Covid-19 it is incumbent upon the Respondent as its fundamental duty to frame sustainable and effective policies which must be in public domain for the benefit of its citizens. 

He added that a person who is willing and has means to afford quality healthcare, could be devoid of the quality of life, consistent with his human personality by the Respondent would lead to psychological trauma and would act as a deterrent in his treatment.

-India Legal Bureau

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