A petition was filed in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking direction to the Delhi government to ensure no private hospital, which has been declared as COVID-19 hospital, charges the patients exorbitantly or deny treatment due to paucity of funds. The plea was mentioned for urgent listing through the web link and it will come up for hearing on June 12, the lawyer, who filed the petition, said.
The Public Interest Litigation filed by social activist and advocate Amit Sahni sought modification of a circular issued by the Delhi government on May 24.
The circular said, “these private hospitals shall bill the COVID-19 patients as per their respective schedule of charges. However, the billing for non-COVID-19 patients admitted on the extra beds shall not be more than 50 per cent of the lower economy category of concerned hospital, as per earlier practice during upsurge of cases of vector borne disease.”
The petition said considering the increase in COVID-19 cases, the state government has declared various hospitals as COVID-19 hospitals and by its June 3 order, the authorities declared three private hospitals, Mool Chand Khairati Lal Hospital, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital – as Covid Hospitals.
These hospitals are mandated to provide 10 per cent IPD and 25 per cent OPD services to patients belonging to economic weaker section (EWS), it said.
Sahni highlighted that he has come across a circular issued by one of these private Covid -19 hospital, which has fixed Rs 3 lakhs as a minimum bill for Covid-19 patients and that patient will be admitted only after advance of Rs 4 lakhs in 2 bedded/3 bedded category and Rs 5 lakhs in single room and Rs 8 lakhs in ICU.
“The State being a welfare state has to ensure that private hospitals do not charge patients exorbitantly and also to ensure that those who require immediate medical attention/intensive care, are not denied admission due to paucity of funds,” the PIL said.
The plea, which has made Delhi government and Director General of Health Services as parties, said it has not impleaded COVID-19 hospitals as party to the petition since the directions sought are against the government to ensure justice with its citizens during the crisis of pandemic.
“The respondents (Delhi government) are duty bound to ensure that the private hospitals do not overcharge public particularly when the government hospitals do not have sufficient infrastructure to accommodate all patients suffering from COVID-19.
“The respondents are under obligation to ensure proper health services to the citizens and that all patients get treated either in government hospitals without any cost or at private hospitals at a reasonable charge,” it said.