SC Seeks Centre Reply on Capping Covid-19 Treatment Cost, Asks Charitable Hospitals to Treat Some Patients for Free

The Supreme Court on Friday, during the hearing of a petition seeking capping of treatment cost of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals in the country, observed that charitable hospitals must give free treatment to a certain number of COVID-19 patients and some service. The apex court also sought a detailed reply from the Centre on this aspect.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the Centre on the PIL filed by Avishek Goenka for fixing an upper limit of cost for COVID-19 treatment by private hospitals.

The court said that the copy of the PIL be served on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who would take instruction on the issue and reply in a week.

Senior lawyers Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for hospital associations, said a previous judgment of the top court has already bound hospitals, given free land, to treat 25% patients free of cost.

The Court allowed hospital bodies to file their responses before the next hearing, which is two weeks away.

The plea has also sought increasing the number of private quarantine facilities and hospitals with an option to the infected people for availing such facilities on payment basis and said that currently such an option is not given to patients.

It also said that the government be asked to fix indicative rates of treatment for similar standards of such facilities.

There should be a time-bound settlement of mediclaim by insurance companies and cashless treatment facilities be extended to all insured patients, the plea said.