“This circular is nearly a year old. The situation has changed,” the court said while adding that hospitals would incur losses if they stuck to the original cap of ₹18,000.
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Delhi government to "revisit" its June 2020 circular capping the per-day package rates for COVID-19 treatments in private hospitals at ₹18,000 saying at this rate "hospitals will run at loss" in the current scenario.
"This circular is nearly a year old. The situation, what it was then (June 2020) and what it is today is drastically different," a Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said highlighting that the medical infrastructure and manpower have become a scarcity due to the surge in Covid cases.
The Bench said that today if a Covid patient wanted a paramedic staff or a private attendant at home, he will be hard pressed to find one.
"They are charging on a per day basis. For a nurse, they are charging around ₹10,000 per day. The paramedic staffs, doctors if they are risking their lives, then are entitled to charge something more. We should not hold grudges," the Bench said.
"There is a huge scarcity of bipaps and medicines and the rates have gone up. So this (circular) needs to be revisited and brought to a realistic level so that hospitals are able to follow it," the High Court said.
‘Likely to incur losses’
"You have to realistically revisit this. What happesn is if you are to implement this circular at this time, at ₹18,000 actually the hospital will run at loss," the high court added.
The high court’s direction came while hearing plea of a lawyer who raised the issue of overcharging of beds by private hospitals.
The lawyer argued that there are hospitals in the capital which are advertising Covid packages with exorbitant charges. He said that as per the June 20, 2020 circular of the Delhi government, ₹18,000 includes everything. "Every hospital I called told me that they are charging ₹50,000 – 60,000 thousand per night," the lawyer said adding that the "situation needed immediate direction".
"I can show bill where a hospital is charging over ₹30,000 per day for an ICU package, over and above what they are charging for oxygen, bipap, gloves. The circular of Delhi government says, it has to be ₹18,000 including everything," the lawyer said.
As per the circular, the per-day rates, including cost of PPE, in hospitals accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) are ₹10,000 for isolation bed, including supportive care and oxygen; ₹15,000 for ICU without ventilator; and ₹18,000 for ICU with ventilator.
For the same, the rates in non-NABH accredited hospitals will be ₹8,000, ₹13,000, and ₹15,000 respectively.
The circular further stated that the rates would be applicable to all COVID-19 beds of private hospitals, subject to an upper limit of 60% of the total hospital bed capacity.
To this, the high court said that the rates has to be made uniform. Otherwise, the hospital could be charging patients different rates for similar services, the high court said.
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