Andhra govt raises cap on COVID-19 treatment rates at private hospitals

The decision was announced soon after a few hospitals in Kadapa refused to admit new COVID-19 patients after being booked for charging treatment fees above the ceiling rate.
A health worker wearing PPE attends to patients at a ICU COVID Ward with Oxygen and Ventilator facilities in Hyderabad
A health worker wearing PPE attends to patients at a ICU COVID Ward with Oxygen and Ventilator facilities in Hyderabad
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The Andhra Pradesh government on April 30 announced its decision to raise the ceiling rates for treatment of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals. While the maximum treatment rate per day for critical COVID-19 care was earlier fixed at Rs 10,380, it has now been increased to Rs 16,000. The decision has been announced a day after multiple private hospitals in Kadapa refused to admit new COVID-19 patients alleging “harassment” of doctors, following police and vigilance officials’ raids based on complaints that they were overcharging COVID-19 patients.

Kadapa Superintendent of Police (SP) KKN Anburajan told the media that police, and vigilance and enforcement (V&E) departments carried out combined raids on two private hospitals in the town after receiving complaints of COVID-19 patients being overcharged. Police cases have been booked on both the hospitals, and a few individuals were detained and being questioned, he said.

According to The New Indian Express, the two hospitals — KCH and Komma Hospital — were found charging around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per day for COVID-19 patients being treated in the ICU. A day after the hospitals were raided, multiple private hospitals in Kadapa, including Komma Hospital, Tirumala Hospitals, Sreekara Hospital and KCH, had put up banners in front of the hospital building saying they would not admit any new COVID-19 patients, alleging that their doctors were being “harassed.”

On April 29, state Health Minister Alla Kali Krishan Srinivas (Nani) told the media that the government was planning to raise the cap on COVID-19 treatment fees. “The government is trying to think in favour of private hospitals too, and is considering raising the fees as their (hospital managements’) costs are also rising. We request private hospitals to treat patients in a humane manner and make sure they aren’t looted,” he said.

Commenting on the Kadapa hospitals’ protest, the Minister said, “As per its responsibility the government has conducted raids. We’re yet to receive a report from the district authorities on the exact circumstances. We’ll look into the issue that caused them (private hospitals) distress.”

Announcing the new ceiling rates, Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal said that a committee that included representatives from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Andhra Pradesh Medical Council has been asked to fix rates that can ensure private hospitals are able to get by while also avoiding profiteering. Earlier in July 2020, the state government had passed orders fixing the maximum rate of treatment for COVID-19 in an ICU with ventilator at Rs 10,380 per day. This ceiling has now been increased to Rs 16,000 per day for hospitals with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) accreditation, and Rs 14,000 per day for other hospitals, Singhal said.

On April 25, the state government passed an order capping the rate for a CT/HRCT scan (computerised tomography/high-resolution computed tomography) at a maximum of Rs 3,000, amid complaints of private hospitals and diagnostic centres charging high rates for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. Earlier, the state government had capped the maximum price of various brands of Remdesivir at Rs 2,500 per vial on April 16. Grievances related to hospitals charging higher rates can be reported on the 1902 helpline number.


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