The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Puducherry government to reimburse payments made by patients to the private medical colleges that have been earmarked as exclusive Covid Care Centres by the government.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, while hearing a a plea seeking directions to the Puducherry government to ensure free treatment to Covid patients in the UT, noted: “This submission of the fourth respondent gives more credence to the issue raised by the petitioner that patients were required to make some payments whether for tests or for medicines or for treatment when such patients ought not to have been charged anything at all since the fourth respondent’s medical facility was deemed to be a Government hospital upon being requisitioned for the purpose.”
The petition was filed on the ground that private hospitals and medical colleges which have been earmarked as Covid treatment centres by the government of Puducherry have been demanding fees and charges from patients despite not being so entitled.
It was submitted by private medical colleges and institutions so earmarked that no money has been forthcoming from the local government even to provide for the daily diet of the many patients who have taken admission, and that “pathological and other tests had to be conducted, medicine, particularly expensive antibiotics and even steroids, to be administered, oxygen supplied and critical care provided in several cases.”It was contended that a private party is unlikely to continuously fund treatment without being reimbursed.
The Government of Puducherry submitted that some payments have been made to the private medical colleges. It was further submitted that for subsequent bills raised by the medical college, the veracity of the bills need to be looked into.
The bench observed- “It is understandable that there will be a time lag between the money spent and the bills raised and a further time lag between the bills received and payments made therefor upon ascertaining the veracity thereof. However, to the extent that some charges may have been obtained by the fourth respondent from the patients directly, fullest particulars thereof should be disclosed to the Union Territory for the relevant patients to be entitled to obtain reimbursement therefor from the Government of the Union Territory.”
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The court has adjourned the matter till to 16.07.21 ascertain the position regarding reimbursement of payments made by patients to private medical colleges, and directed petitioner and the local Government to make all patients, who have made payments to such private medical colleges for Covid treatment, aware that they are entitled to reimbursement of the payments made.