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Educationist moves HC, seeks free treatment for all Covid-19 patients

By Kanchan Chaudhari, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 05, 2020 01:12 AM IST

Educationist Sagar Jondhale has moved the Bombay high court (HC) challenging the validity of a notification issued by the Maharashtra government on May 21, on the ground that it has fixed exorbitant rates for the treatment of Covid-19 patients at private hospitals.

Claiming that the notification affects the right to life of people – especially of the ones belonging to the lower strata of the society – Jondhale has urged HC to strike down the notification, and direct the state to provide free of cost treatment to all Covid-19 patients. The 42-year-old Dombivli resident has also sought HC’s direction in allowing private hospitals to charge non-Covid patients at the rates fixed under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Health Insurance Scheme.

His public interest litigation (PIL), filed through advocate Anand Jondhale, stated that the number of Covid-19 patients is rising rapidly across Maharashtra, even as scores of others have been kept in institutional and home quarantine. The petition added that in most cases, an infected patient’s entire family is also required to undergo the testing and take treatment, if any of them is found positive.

Jondhale, in his petition said that the rates prescribed by the state’s notification are beyond the paying capacity of the general public and even if the minimum rates, as fixed under the notification are charged by private hospitals, the bill will range between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1,00,000 for a patient admitted in the general ward of a hospital. The notification under challenge allows private hospitals to charge a maximum of Rs 4,000 per day for patients admitted to regular wards, Rs 7,500 in intensive care units (ICU) without ventilator support and Rs 9,000 in ICU with ventilator. The rates, however, do not include charges for personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, interventional procedures, Covid testing, high-end drugs and investigations such as CT and MRI scans.

The notification allows private hospitals to charge separately for pharmacy and pathology services, as per the prevailing rates of the hospital, stated the PIL. It is not only the bounden duty of the state to protect the life of every citizen by taking appropriate steps to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, but also to provide free of cost treatment to persons infected by the deadly virus, he said.

The educationist, therefore, asserted that the government should provide free treatment, including pathological testing and medicines, to corona positive patients, especially to those who are not covered by any health insurance cover.

The PIL will come up for hearing on June 5 before a bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Amjad Sayed.

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