The Maharashtra government on Thursday announced that it will take over 80% of the beds in private hospitals and nursing homes across the state for the treatment of coronavirus patients, NDTV reported. The government also capped charges for treatment for Covid-19 and other illnesses at the facilities.
Maharashtra has been affected the worst by the coronavirus. The state has one-third of India’s coronavirus infections with 41,642 cases so far.
The order covers hospitals run by charitable trusts, including all the big Mumbai hospitals such as H N Reliance, Lilavati, Breach Candy, Jaslok, Bombay Hospital, Bhatia, Wockhardt, Nanavati, Fortis, LH Hiranandani and PD Hinduja, among others, a notification issued by the government said.
This came a day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said it will take over at least 100 beds, including in intensive care units, of private nursing homes and small hospitals in all 24 wards of Mumbai. This will mean an additional 2,400 beds for Covid-19 patients in the city.
Unidentified state officials told The Indian Express that these beds will be managed through a central portal. The charges for a Covid-19 patient in isolation ward cannot be more than Rs 4,000 a day. The maximum charge for the intensive care unit is capped at Rs 7,500 a day, and charges for ventilator are capped at Rs 9,000 a day. Until now, a Covid-19 patient was normally charged between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000 a day for ventilator services in a private hospital.
The new charges will include facilities such as drugs, consultation fees of doctors, nursing, food and bed charges. However, it will not be inclusive of the charges for Covid-19 tests and personal protective equipment for the patient. Other diagnostic tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and computerised tomography scan, along with expensive drugs like Tocilizumab, will have to be paid for separately.
For other medical treatments such as a pacemaker, intraocular lenses, stents, catheter, balloon, medical implants, consumables and personal protective equipment, hospitals will not be permitted to charge more than a 20% mark up on the net procurement cost, the government said. This means if a PPE costs Rs 100, a hospital cannot charge the patient more than Rs 110.
“To redress the grievances regarding exorbitant amount of money charged by healthcare providers from patients...all healthcare providers functioning in Maharashtra are directed to follow this order,” the notification said. The state government has graded the prices a hospital can charge based on the location, and the number of beds, it added.
On April 30, the state government issued the first notification capping treatment charges for all beds in private hospitals to prevent overcharging. However, the revisions were met with protests from private hospitals. “[But] now they [have] agreed to reserve 80% and charge them as per our rates,” an unidentified state official told The Indian Express. “In return they wanted to charge the usual prices for remaining 20%.”
As per the amended notification on Thursday, for the 80% of the beds that have been taken over by the government, hospitals in Mumbai with more than 100 beds can charge only up to the maximum ceiling on prices. Meanwhile in Pune, hospitals can charge only up to 85% of the capped prices.
The government said that “80% of total operational bed capacity will be regulated on the basis of the prices mentioned and this will apply to both isolation beds and non-isolation beds”. Each municipal corporation will analyse how many beds they get from each hospital by taking over 80% of the capacity, Dr Sudhakar Shinde, who drafted the notification, told the newspaper.
The state further invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2005, and directed nurses and other employees to clock regular attendance.