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Haryana caps Covid-19 test rate at 2,500 in private labs for government collected samples

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 11:10 PM IST

The Haryana government has fixed the price of reverse polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test used to detect coronavirus disease (Covid-19) between 2,500 and 3,950 after negotiations with three authorised private labs that are actively conducting tests in the state.

This cost, which includes logistics and cost of transporting the samples, is lower than the 4, 500 which was the ceiling price fixed earlier by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct RT-PCR tests.

The ICMR on May 25 had allowed the state governments to negotiate with approved private labs and fix mutually agreeable prices for testing samples. The Haryana health department on May 15 has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three labs – Core, Pathfinder and Modern – to conduct RT-PCR tests at the revised rates.

As per the order issued by Haryana Medical Services Corporation Limited (HMSCL) on Thursday, 2,500 will be charged for every sample if the health department collects its and uses their own transportation to deliver it to one of the three labs. In case, the sample is collected by the staff at but it is picked up by private labs for testing, the price will increase to 3,200. It will further increase to 3,950, if the sample collection, logistics, testing and reporting is done by the private labs completely. These rates have been fixed as one-third for screening and two-third for confirmatory test.

Rajeev Arora, additional chief secretary, health department said, “We had entered into negotiations with three private labs even before the ICMR issued the orders and fixed the rates. Three labs- Core, Pathfinder and Model – had agreed to these rates on May 15.”

As per the ICMR letter issued on May 25, based on the cost of imported kits and efforts involved in carrying out the test, the upper limit for a single test was set at 4,500 in March. However, since testing supplies had stabilised and varied options of testing materials/kits including indigenous ones being available, prices had become competitive and are undergoing reduction, the letter had said.

The letter said the earlier suggested upper ceiling of 4,500 may not be applicable now ,and states have to negotiate with private labs and fix up mutually agreeable prices for samples being sent by the government.

In Haryana—besides Rohtak, Hisar, Sonepat, Karnal, Nallhar and Panchkula where government labs are conducting RT-PCR tests— a bulk of samples are being sent to authorised private labs to be tested against Covid-19 testing. According to an official in the HMSCL, who is privy to the matter said, “Samples go in bulk to these labs, which includes at least 700 transportion cost for every sample. It is up to the district level officers to opt for any of these packages based on the proximity of labs,” he said.

According to Arora, nearly 99% of the samples in the states are collected at government hospitals which are further transported to these private labs for testing.

Though seven labs authorised by ICMR are allowed to conduct RT-PCR in the state, three labs have signed an MoU with the Haryana government so far. As per the MoU the labs will have to collect samples and test it within a defined time period. As per the norms laid down, labs need to ensure samples are collected from a spot within two hours and test results are delivered within 36 hours.

The MOU also says that if the results of a sample are not delivered within the stipulated time, the government would deduct 20% of the testing cost of the sample.

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