Bengal govt fixes bed charge for Covid patients, seeks 10% discount on medicines
The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission issued its 11th advisory to private hospitals, amid allegations of inflated billing and unnecessary pathological tests, but many hospitals say they have not raised the charges for beds in the current financial year.Updated: Aug 23, 2020 11:29 IST
Flooded by complaints of exorbitant rates being charged from Covid-19 patients by private hospitals, the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission on Saturday issued an advisory, saying bed charges have to be kept at what they used to be on March 1.
The commission also said that hospitals have to offer a 10 per cent discount on the price of medicines or else allow the patients’ families to provide it. A three-member committee would review the need for pathological tests, the 12-member commission said after a meeting.
The commission further said that no Covid-19 patient can be denied admission.
This is the 11th advisory to private hospitals, amid allegations of inflated billing and unnecessary pathological tests.
“I have been assured cooperation by the highest quarters of the state government in this exercise,” the commission’s chairman and retired Calcutta high court judge Ashim Kumar Bandopadhyay told a television channel on Saturday evening.
The private hospitals said on Saturday night bed charges were not increased after the pandemic began.
Rupak Barua, president, Association of Hospitals of Eastern India and group CEO of Kolkata-based AMRI Hospitals said, “Private hospitals review their rates at the end of every financial year and, after factoring in inflation, rates are revised by an average of no more than 5-10%. This comes into effect from April 1 every year. The same was done this year too and bed rates were not increased for Covid treatment.”
“In regard to the other advisories, we have requested the commission for some time to discuss internally and also to share some more clarity. As for incidents of over-billing are concerned, those should be treated as stray incidents and not standard practice. We have let the government know that private hospitals are there to support the state’s fight against the pandemic and we are always at the service of the people,” said Barua.
On August 8, the commission said in an advisory that no hospital can charge more than Rs 50,000 as advance deposit during admission and patients’ families have to be given 12 hours to get the money.
The commission said that sanction from patients’ families have to be taken for pathological tests if these cost more than Rs 2000 and necessity of the tests have to be explained to the families in advance. The commission, however, added that if a test is considered urgent then it could be conducted but the attending doctor would bear the responsibility.
On August 2, the commission said that most hospitals were charging patients for the most expensive antibiotics, antifungals, analgesics and other drugs although these are available in different price ranges. The commission said, “Patients’ relatives shall be offered to choose which brand they would like to purchase.”
The commission said that high-end antibiotics such as “Meropenem” used in critical care management are available under different brands with different prices and hospitals must keep adequate stock of at least three or four brands. Unless a doctor specifically prescribes a particular brand the pharmacy must supply “Meropenem” having the lowest price tag, the commission had said on August 2.