Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 24 June 2021 8.49 PM IST

Private hospitals, labs should stop reaping profit from pandemic!


The High Court's order that the government should intervene against the exorbitant rates charged by private hospitals providing Covid treatment is in the interest of the community. The government had earlier proposed a general rate for Covid treatment, but private hospitals are now charging their own rates. It is true that there are plenty of people who are willing to pay any amount of money. But this is not an opportunity to make profit.

The uncontrolled increase in the number of patients is also forcing ordinary people to approach private hospitals though they have to borrow money to meet the hospital expense.
When the number of patients increases beyond the capacity of the government system, many people will rush to private hospitals for treatment. Treatment at any hospital depends on the severity of the disease. But many private hospitals charge a hefty amount for the package. There is also a huge difference in IC and ventilator rates. While considering the case, the division bench of the high court had pointed out that there are hospitals which charge for up to two PPE kits per day per patient. When the country as a whole is reeling under the Covid epidemic, private hospitals should not forget their social commitment and resort to austerity. This is where government intervention comes into play. Covid treatment has also been taken over by private hospitals with the permission of the government. The government has set rates for each type of treatment, equipment and systems. If hospitals are not ready to comply with this, the government must intervene. Do not allow disaster to turn into an opportunity for profit. Private hospitals themselves should be prepared to revise Covid treatment rates in a way that is affordable to the general public, without waiting for government intervention.

On the same day that the petition related to Covid treatment rates in private hospitals was considered, the single bench heard arguments on the petition filed by the lab owners against the reduction of Covid test to Rs.500 by the government. There was also the legal issue of whether the government had the power to reduce such rates. The government intervened and fixed the fee at Rs 500. It should not be forgotten that during the first wave of Covid, lab owners charged three to four times this amount. Not only the laboratories but also the private hospitals which have been given permission for testing had cashed in on the crisis. The government intervened and reduced the rates after many people started putting pressure on the government, pointing out the inspection rates outside Kerala. Some labs were even willing to suspend testing in protest against the government decision. Profiteering in the midst of the epidemic may have prompted them to take such a step. But the social responsibility of the government in such cases is paramount. That is why the court also lauded the government's move to reduce the rates. No institution can escape the obligation to help the people as much as they can when the whole society is in great danger.

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