Despite requests, price caps on Covid care not rationalised: IMA doctors

The pricing, some said, was fixed without a thorough study of costs borne by private hospitals and ignored the increase in expenditure on oxygen, medicines, biomedical waste management among others.

Several small and medium-size hospital managements have expressed reservations about the state government’s decision to continue with the ceiling in rates fixed by the state government for Covid-19 treatment. The pricing, some said, was fixed without a thorough study of costs borne by private hospitals and ignored the increase in expenditure on oxygen, medicines, biomedical waste management among others.

The Maharashtra government, in May last year, had set an upper limit on per day admission fee that the hospitals could charge Covid-19 patients for routine wards, Intensive Care Units and ventilator support. This month, the government revised the previous order and decided the caps by further introducing three categories based on the cities in which the hospitals are based.

Doctors associated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said despite repeated requests the rates fixed by the state government have not been rationalised. The current rate list, they claimed, ignored the costs being borne by the hospital administrations.

At a recent meeting, some private hospital owners claimed that in spite of the active participation of all private facilities in the fight against Covid-19, the government did not seem to recognise their contribution. “On the contrary, they (the government) have been meting out insulting treatment. Hospital owners are also being threatened to follow orders,” Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the Hospital Board of India IMA, Pune chapter, said.

Expenses on oxygen, medicines, biomedical waste management, nurses and other staff have increased manifold, doctors claimed. “There is no subsidy and help given for electricity bill or taxes. Many hospitals had to spend on the available infrastructure on their own,” Dr Patil added.

Doctors also claimed these rates have been fixed by the government without studying all the costs that the hospitals actually bear.

“The fixed charges on bed rent and nursing, among others, can be decided and capped after thoroughly studying the costs being borne by the hospitals. Laboratories and pharmacy expenses should be dealt with separately. In case of additional services, the right to fix such charges should be given to the hospital,” another doctor said.

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