The state told the High Court that it has taken a policy decision "to provide COVID-19 testing, treatment and post COVID-19 complication treatment free of cost" only to certain beneficiaries.

A frontline workers in a PPE kit checks on a patient amid the coronavirus pandemicImage for representation
news Coronavirus Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 20:27

Open-ended free treatment for all types of post-COVID treatment for all categories of people cannot be provided by the state, given its financial crisis, the Left government informed the Kerala High Court on Wednesday, November 24. The submission was made by the state government in response to the court's observation that when deaths even after 30 days of a person turning negative for coronavirus is treated as a COVID-19 death, then by the same rationale, treatment for post-COVID complications should also be reckoned as part of coronavirus care.

A bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath had asked the government to clarify why it fixed treatment charges for post-COVID complications for those Above the Poverty Line. In its response, the state government — represented by senior government pleader S Kannan — told the bench on Wednesday that it has taken a policy decision "to provide COVID testing, treatment and post COVID-19 complication treatment free of cost to BPL, KBF beneficiaries and KASP beneficiaries".

It also said that "to ensure that private hospitals are not billing exorbitant rates from patients, the upper limit of the treatment package has been fixed. The government has also taken steps to ensure that post COVID treatment is available at a reasonable cost at government hospitals to Above Poverty Line (APL) patients.”

"The rate of Rs 750 per day is for pay wards in government hospitals. For a bed in the general ward only Rs 10 is levied from patients as a stoppage charge. Therefore, it is the choice of the patient whether to go and avail treatment in a private hospital or in a government hospital's pay ward or general ward," it said.

The state government also said security and managerial staff will not come under the purview of the Kerala Health Care Persons and Health Care Services Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act of 2012. This came in response to the High Court's observation that the state has to consider including security and managerial staff in the ambit of the Act as they are the first ones exposed when anyone attacks a hospital.

The court was hearing a review petition filed by the Kerala Private Hospitals Association in relation to the COVID-19 treatment charges fixed by the state for treatment of coronavirus in private hospitals. As part of the same matter, the court had also taken up the issue of assaults on doctors and other healthcare professionals in hospitals.

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