The Gujarat government on Thursday capped the rate of testing in private laboratories in the state at Rs 3,000, The Indian Express reported. Tests for the coronavirus are done free of cost at government facilities.

The decision came a month after the Indian Council of Medical Research removed the price cap of Rs 4,500 for Covid-19 testing and asked states to negotiate with private labs and fix the rates. This was done on the ground that the testing kits cost lesser than the earlier capped price, as they are now being indigenously manufactured.

“It was decided by the health department that the private laboratories can charge Rs 2,500 if a person visits the lab to get tested, and if a person is tested at their residence or at a hospital [by the private laboratories] where a lab employee has to be called for testing, then the laboratory can charge Rs 3,000,” said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. “On an average, 500 people get tested daily in private laboratories.”

The decision to slash rates was taken by the “core group” of the state government after a chief ministerial-level meeting on Wednesday, Patel said. “If any lab is found charging more than what has now been decided, their approval will be cancelled,” he added. “If we receive any complaint of overcharging and the same is proven, the approval for the lab will be revoked with immediate effect.”

A circular in this regard was issued by the office of the additional director in the health department, Dr Prakash Vaghela, on Thursday, stating that the two rate slabs are the maximum that can be charged at any private lab. The circular, however, did not specify what kind of punitive action will be taken in case of non-compliance.

The subsidised rates also came a day after the Ahmedabad Medical Association had written to the state government, urging that rates be reduced since testing kits are now available at lower prices, the Ahmedabad Mirror reported. Meanwhile, the leader of opposition, Paresh Dhanani, said people should not be charged more than Rs 1,000 for getting themselves tested in the state.

Several states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and New Delhi, had capped their testing prices earlier this month.

Haryana fixes rates at private hospitals

Meanwhile, the Haryana government on Friday slashed Covid-19 treatment rates at private hospitals. ANI reported. The state’s health department has fixed prices between Rs 8,000 and Rs 18,000, depending on the patient’s medical condition and the facilities provided by the hospital.

According to the order, the non-National Accreditation Board for Hospitals accredited facilities will charge Rs 8000 for isolation beds including supportive systems and oxygen. The intensive care unit beds without ventilator would be charged at Rs 13,000 and with ventilator would cost Rs 15,000.

At NABH accredited hospitals, isolation beds would be charged at Rs 10,000. For a bed in ICU without ventilator, the price is capped at Rs 15,000 and with ventilator at Rs 18,000. The package would be inclusive of prices of lab investigations, radiological diagnostics, consumables including personal protection equipment and masks, along with doctors’ consultation, nursing care, physiotherapy, among other treatments.

The order stated that the package will also include treatment of comorbid conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases since many patients of the coronavirus suffer from these ailments. However, the prices will not include procedures like deliveries in pregnant patients and experimental therapies.