The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) on Monday cancelled the classification of a private hospital in Mira Road as a centre for COVID-19 treatment for allegedly overcharging patients.
However, unlike the strict action taken by other civic bodies against similar irregularities, the MBMC is under the scanner for the kid’s glove treatment it has meted out to the hospital by shying away from suspending the license of the erring establishment which was found to be brazenly fleecing patients.
As per information given by the public relation office (PRO), the civic administration has cancelled the classification of Galaxy Hospital as a Dedicated COVID-19 Hospital (DCH) facility for over-billing patients and failing to respond to notices and queries raised by the audit team, seeking clarification on the billing process.
“The hospital tried to misguide the audit team by submitting different bills. Apart from banning COVID-19 treatment, we have directed the management to reimburse the difference in amount to the patients. I think the punishment is sufficient,” said deputy civic chief Sambhajji Waghmare.
To ensure that private hospitals charge bills in accordance with rates notified by the government, the MBMC has instituted three teams comprising senior officials who are personally visiting the private hospitals for audit and verification of medical bills being charged from COVID-19 patients.
As per the provisions which has been passed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the government has regulated 80% usage of bed capacity of private hospitals (excluding beds of PICU, NICU, day care, maintenance and hemodialysis) while capping prices of treatments that can be billed to patients.
A ceiling has also been imposed on treatment of around 270 procedures or surgeries for non-COVID-19 cases. However, there have been numerous complaints of exorbitant bills being presented by some private players who were not cooperating with patients. Presently 13 private hospitals have tied up with the MBMC under the 80:20 pattern to facilitate COVID-19 treatment.
Hospitals are allowed to charge their own rates in the remaining 20 % beds.
Audit Team sans Doctors:
The three audit teams set up by the MBMC to examine bills and detect excess charges comprises a total of 20 members. Notably, none of them belongs to the medical fraternity.
The committee is entrusted with the job of ensuring that the hospitals levy charges prescribed by the government. One of the teams has checked bills of 8 patients amounting Rs 11.95 lakh and weeded out excess charges amounting Rs. 1.11 lakh.
The reports of the other teams were still awaited.