The Maharashtra government's decision to cap the charges of private hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients has not gone down well with the Indian Medical Association and medical consultants. The association of doctors has slammed the government for this move claiming that it would further destabilise the economy and functioning of small hospitals. The doctors alleged that the state has failed to limit the prices of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), which are the major reasons for inflated bills.
Members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Maharashtra in an open letter on Tuesday have claimed such low rates will lead to the closure of smaller hospitals all across the state. “The government agreed to hold a separate meeting on the issues. Unfortunately, the government unilaterally announced hospital rates without any discussion with the IMA. Compliance to these rates is simply impossible. Small hospitals cannot sustain at these rates as they are already catering affordable healthcare unlike big multi-bedded corporate hospitals,” reads the letter.
In April, the state government had mandated that private hospitals would have to allocate 20% beds for COVID-19 patients. Out of these, 80% beds are regulated by the civic body. On Monday, the health department issued a circular extending the duration of the price cap till November 30. The circular also stated that private hospitals can begin charging regular rates for the 50 per cent beds reserved for non-Covid patients, even as the government rates will be applicable to the remaining 50 per cent beds meant for COVID-19 patients.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president IMA, Maharashtra said that the government is not taking any strict action against the people who are assaulting doctors while they are on duty treating covid-19 patients. But the government is busy capping prices and enforcing their direction on private hospitals and doctors. “More than 100 doctors have died while treating Covid-19 duty who has not received any insurance or assistance from the government. If hospitals are compelled by such unilateral, impractical, anti-democratic, autocratic decisions, then IMA with its doctors will be compelled to think of alternative steps,” he said.
The Association of Medical Consultants (AMC) stated that in violation of the disaster management act, the state government isn’t reimbursing the private hospitals for the loss they are sustaining. “The government should reimburse the hospital for the vacant beds under the 80% scheme. The rates are unrealistic especially where multiple doctors are required,” said Dr Deepak Baid, president of AMC. Moreover the state government cannot take decision on COVID-19 charges as the matter is under consideration in the Supreme Court.