Hyderabad: High Court has directed the Government of Telangana to use the powers available to it to reign with regard to corporate hospitals for overcharging Covid-19 patients. It has ordered that since the Central Government has delegated its power to determine rates for various tests and procedures to the States. The Government, here, must prescribe the rates for such tests and procedures.

The Health Department of the State has also been directed to provide a link on its website for citizens to lodge complaints against private hospitals indulging in such overcharging.

This plethora of directions was passed by the Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy on Tuesday while hearing a batch of PILs filed relating to curbing the overcharging of private hospitals and provision of teaching hospital beds for Covid-19 treatment.

The bench directed that the State Government must publicize the upper capped rates it prescribed for treatment of Covid-19 patients in private hospital vide G.O. dated 15-06-2020. Since the charges are not known to many people, there is a lot of confusion prevailing and this confusion must be cleared by the Government, it said.

The Bench cited the proof provided by the petitioner Mr. D.G. Narasimha Rao in WP(PIL) No. 142 of 2020 wherein one Mr. Manoj Kothari, a Covid-19 patient, was charged Rs. 4,21,000/- by Yashoda Hospitals for treatment of 9 days. Although Mr. Kothari had medical insurance coverage for Rs 5 lakhs, the insurance company paid only Rs. 1,20,000 as a settlement in view of capped rates of State Government. The hospital detained Mr. Kothari who lodged a complaint with Punjagutta Police Station and only after paying the balance amount, he was discharged.

The Chief Justice questioned Dr. G Srinivasa Rao, Director of Public Health and Family Welfare, whether any notice was issued to Yashoda Hospitals or any action taken against such overcharging. Similarly, KIMS Hospitals also charged one Mr. Mir Farooq Ali Khan
an amount of Rs 4,25,000/- for ten days of treatment. What is the State Government doing about such overcharging by the hospitals, questioned the Chief Justice.

In regard to the Gandhi Hospitals insisting on producing Covid-19 positive certificate for admission in hospitals, the Chief Justice observed that it is beyond the understanding of the Court. When Dr. Ramesh Reddy, Director of Medical Education, asserted that this was necessary because Gandhi Hospitals is meant for critical Covid-19 cases, the Chief Justice made strong remarks saying " this high handed, calcitrant, unsympathetic attitude of Dr. Ramesh Reddy is beyond the understanding of this Court. There is no reason imaginable as to why when a testing facility is available in Gandhi Hospitals, it is being used only for pregnant women. The Court directed the State

The government to permit Gandhi Hospitals to extend the testing facility to patients coming for treatment. The Advocate General BS Prasad was directed by the Bench to file a detailed report on compliance of the directions issued and these cases were
posted for the next hearing on July 27th.

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