Can rationalise rates, not nationalise private hospitals, Maharashtra tells high court
Maharashtra has assured the Bombay high court that it has issued a notification that puts a cap on the price of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits that can be charged by private hospitals from patients who are admitted to the 80% reserved beds. The state, however, submitted that while it can rationalise rates being charged by hospitals, it could not nationalise the private hospitals as sought by the petitioner.
As per the notification private hospitals can recover only Rs 600 per PPE kit per day and can charge Rs 600 for a normal bed and Rs 1,200 for a bed in the ICU from patients admitted to the reserved beds. The notification does not apply to charges for treating patients admitted to the remaining 20% unregulated beds.
A division bench of justice A A Sayed and justice S P Tavade, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Abhijeet Mangade, was informed that he had approached the high court after being presented with a bill of Rs 4 lakh for the treatment of his mother.
Mangde told the court that of the bill, Rs 72,000 was charged for PPE kits and gloves used by the hospital while treating his mother over a period of six days. This, Mangade said was exploitation of patients and in the interest of the masses, the court should direct the state to regulate the price of PPE kits.
While responding to the plea, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the state had through a notification on August 31, the rates of PPE kits and bed charges recovered by private hospitals for the 80% regulated beds was capped. Kumbhakoni said there was no cap on charges that the private hospital could recover from patients admitted and treated on the remaining, unregulated beds.
“We can rationalise the rates but cannot nationalise private hospitals as sought by the petitioner. Private hospitals have to adhere to the rack rates prescribed only for the regulated beds. The rack rates of regulated beds do not apply to unregulated beds and hospitals can recover charges as per their own rack rates,” said Kumbhakoni. He added that the only restriction on the hospitals was that they should recover charges for the unregulated beds as per the rack rates existing on December 31, 2019.
After hearing the submissions, the bench directed the petitioner to file his response to the additional affidavit within a week and posted the matter for hearing thereafter.