HC asks if governments could pay COVID-19 bills in private hospitals

The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the Center and the state government to respond to a public interest plea to mandate the government to bear the costs of COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals.

Vineet Kothari and R. Suresh Kumar JJ. suo motu included the Center as a defendant in the case since the petitioner, S. Jimraj Milton, of the People's Rights Protection Center, had pleaded only against the state government and asked for their response before June 16.

The judges asked for details on the treatment of COVID-19 patients in public and private hospitals and the amount billed by private hospitals.

Finding out whether governments had set a cap on treatment fees at notified private medical facilities, the court asked if there was a mechanism to file complaints about extra-billing.

If such a mechanism were in place, governments were required to disclose the number of complaints received to date, the problems resolved and the manner in which the authorities concerned had dealt with them.

Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopal and state government litigant V. Jayaprakash Narayan have been tasked with ensuring that responses from the Center and the state government are tabled within a week, " given that the situation is of an urgent and urgent nature ”.

Earlier, lawyer Balan Haridas, representing the petitioner, urged the court to rescind a government order of April 3, which stipulated that COVID-19 patients could be treated in private hospitals at their expense, and by Therefore order treatment in all hospitals at state expense.

Wondering how the government could "force" people to pay for the treatment of a pandemic, he said it was up to the state to provide free treatment.

He also argued that people who suffered from loss of livelihood during the COVID-19 lockout could not bear the cost of treatment.

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