Tamil Nadu

Govt. caps tariff that pvt. hospitals can charge COVID-19 patients

In case of ICU admission, charges cannot top ₹15,000 a day

The State Health Department on Saturday announced three slabs of maximum applicable daily tariff for treatment of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals. For this purpose, the hospitals have been classified under two categories — Grade A1/ A2 and Grade A3/A4.

An official release said that Grade A1 and A2 hospitals can collect a maximum of ₹7,500 a day from COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and have been admitted to the general ward.

The maximum tariff for such patients in the general ward of Grade A3 and A4 hospitals has been fixed at ₹5,000 a day. However, in case of admission to the intensive care unit, all hospitals, irrespective of the grades they fall under, have been instructed to ensure that the charges do not exceed ₹15,000 a day. While the release said that hospitals cannot charge more than the fixed tariff, it did not specify if the tariff included all hospitalisation costs.

Complaints noted

The State government said that the tariff cap on private hospitals was fixed by a committee headed by the Health Secretary, taking into consideration complaints of hospitals charging exorbitant sums and also a representation from the Indian Medical Association, Tamil Nadu branch (IMA-TN), to cap the tariff in private hospitals. Recently, IMA-TN had proposed a tariff of ₹2,31,820 for 10 days for patients with mild/moderate symptoms in COVID Care Centres and ₹4,31,411 for 17 days for patients with severe symptoms, requiring treatment in hospitals and ICUs.

C.N. Raja, president, IMA-TN, said that the association, along with the Nursing Home Board, had arrived at the cost structure following complaints about some hospitals charging ₹1 lakh to ₹1.5 lakh a day. “We wanted the charges to be reasonable and affordable, without affecting the running of the hospitals. We were ready to forgo doctors’ fees too. We do not know how the government arrived at this price cap and what yardsticks it was based on. But we do not differ on the point that there should be a price cap,” he said.

He raised the need for a price cap on COVID-19-related medical supplies to private hospitals as they have to purchase from the market. “We have been repeatedly appealing to the State and Central governments to bring a price cap on medical equipment, consumables and drugs for COVID-19 treatment. This included masks and personal protective equipment,” he said.

Asked about the government’s decision, Apollo Hospitals vice-chairperson Preetha Reddy said, “We have to go through the details and see.”

Smaller hospitals said that the challenge is to the keep the hospital running in the midst of the pandemic. Dr T.N. Ravishankar, who runs a hospital in East Tambaram, Chennai, said hospitals incurred expenses on deployment of healthcare workers in the COVID-19 wards and providing them PPE kits.

“We need to have two staff nurses and two doctors who visit the patients each day, a dietician and the cleaning staff, all of whom must wear PPE. We must have two sets of staff so that we can run a ward,” he explained.

Instead, the government could consider regulating the cost of PPE kits, he suggested.

Giving a cost break-up, he said, the government-fixed tariff would cover basic medicine and PPE but expensive drugs could not be administered in case of terminal patients. “The price cap will not cover the infrastructure charges, the professional or lab charges,” he added.

“I have to pay double the money to make my staff come to work because of the risk involved. If all hospitals are to be safe, life and medical insurance cover must be given to all our healthcare workers,” Dr. Ravishankar added.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 6:52:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-caps-tariff-that-pvt-hospitals-can-charge-covid-19-patients/article31769412.ece

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