Maharashtra To Take Over 80% Beds in Private Hospitals; Caps Costs for Treatment
The Maharashtra government has finally decided to cap charges levied by private hospitals for treating patients of coronavirus (COVID-19). A notification issued by the public health department caps the charges per day for COVID-19 patients at Rs4,000 for general beds, followed by Rs8,000 for intensive care unit (ICU) and Rs9,000 for ventilators beds.
In addition, the state government also decided to take control of up to 80% beds in private hospitals run by charitable trusts for the treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients for three months till August.
The government has also imposed ceilings on treatment of around 270 procedures or surgeries for non-COVID cases.
While regular government rates would be applicable for the 80% beds, the hospitals would be permitted to fix their charges for the remaining 20% beds.
As per the notification signed by Dr Pradeep Vyas, principal secretary to the government, these charges include monitoring and investigations like complete blood count (CBC), urine routine, HIV spot, anti-HCV, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), serum, creatinine, ultrasonography (USG), 2D echo, X-ray, ECG and drugs as well as consultations, bed charges, nursing charges, and meals.
Charges for personal protective equipment (PPE), interventional procedures, COVID-19 testing, cost of high-end medicines would be charged at maximum retail price. Cost of high-end investigation like CT scan and MRI would be charged as per the department's earlier circular issued on 31 December 2019.
Apart from this, the mark-up on expensive medicines has been capped at 10% of the procurement rates, and the hospital cannot charge the patient more than the MRP, the notification says.
The move comes as the state touched a staggering 1,454 deaths and 41,642 Coronavirus cases to date, while 11,726 have been cured and sent home.
The decision was also prompted by many complaints of exorbitant bills churned out by private hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients allegedly taking advantage of the prevalent crisis situation.
As per the notification, several healthcare providers in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel and Pune have specific agreements or agreements with general insurance public sector associations (GIPSA) as a member of preferred private network (PPN) for rates of various treatment packages. However, there are many, who are not part of the GIPSA-PPN and have their own agreements or understanding with various third-party administrators (TPAs) on rates for various treatment packages.
However, the notification points out that persons who are not covered by any health insurance product or who have exhausted their health insurance cover are being charged exorbitantly causing hardship to public in general during the pandemic situation.
The notification asks healthcare providers to make attempt to increase their bed capacity to accommodate maximum number of patients. It says, "80% of the total operational bed capacity, excluding beds of PICU, NICU, day care, maintenance haemodialysis, will be regulated by the rates as prescribed. That means 80% of the isolation beds available with any healthcare provider should be regulated by the state government or district collectors or municipal commissioners along with 80% of the non-isolation beds. Healthcare providers may charge their rack rates to the remaining 20% of beds."
The notification also prohibits hospital from charging extra from those patients who have insurance cover or who are availing the treatment in the 20% beds quota.
Meanwhile, the state has readied 1,200 beds in St. Xaviers' College near Marine Lines and Mehboob Studios in Bandra to cater to COVID-19 patients, in addition to the Wuhan-style hospitals at Bandra Kurla Complex, NESCO Goregaon and NSCI Worli.
A health department official said the latest moves would greatly enhance the COVID-19 treatment facilities and infrastructure in the state as the cases continued to increase.
Here is the notification issued by the public health department…