The Supreme Court on Tuesday while asking the government to consider framing guidelines on the issue of cost of treatment for Covid-19 infection said that no one should be turned away from hospitals due to higher cost of treatment.
Though the apex court opined that “cost of the treatment should not be higher at the present time,” it also said that court is not equipped to either regulate cost of treatment or say what should be the best model of treatment for patients infected with coronavirus.The court agreed that it would be also “inequitous” for it to impose a ceiling on the cost of treatment, particularly when conditions and availability of medical facilities vastly determined costs in each State.
“Circumstances in each State is different. These are economic realities. Treatment is like lawyers’ fees, they differ in each place,” Chief Justice Bobde said.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R S Reddy and A S Bopanna, was hearing through video-conferencing a plea filed by advocate Sachin Jain who has sought a direction for regulating the cost of treatment of Covid-19 at private hospitals across the country.
During the hearing, the bench referred to the affidavit filed earlier in the matter by the Centre which had said that there is no provision under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 “whereby it is mandated that the private hospitals running on the public land shall treat Covid-19 patients on free basis”. “It is again reiterated that such policies may only be defined and implemented by the respective state governments.
The counsel appearing for federation of private hospitals said that states have their own models and there cannot be a uniform pricing for all the states. The Supreme Court said that concerned authority of Union health ministry should consider framing guideline on this aspect. In June, the apex court had asked private hospitals whether they were ready to provide treatment to Covid-19 infected patients at the charges prescribed under the government’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme.