The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the AAP government to “revisit” its June 2020 circular capping per-day package rates for COVID-19 treatments in private hospitals at ₹18,000, saying “hospitals will run at loss” at this rate 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 High Court Bench said highlighting that the medical infrastructure and manpower have become a scarcity due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
It noted that now if a COVID patient wants a paramedic staffer 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 staffers and doctors, if they are risking their lives, then they are entitled to charge more. We should not hold grudges,” the Bench said.
“There is huge scarcity of BiPAP 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.
“You have to realistically revisit this... if you are to implement this circular at this time, at ₹18,000, hospitals will actually run at loss,” the court added.
The court’s direction came while hearing a plea of a lawyer who raised the issue of overcharging of beds by private hospitals. The lawyer argued that there are hospitals in Delhi, 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 to ₹60,000 per night,” the lawyer said.
“I can show a bill where a hospital is charging ₹30,000 per day for an ICU package, over and above they are charging for oxygen, BiPAP, gloves. The circular of Delhi government says that it has to be ₹18,000, including everything,” the lawyer said.
As per the circular, the per-day rates, including the cost of PPE, in hospitals accredited by 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 High Court said that the rates has to be made uniform.