The issue came to light after IPS officer D Roopa tweeted about the development.

A group of men and women who are healthcare workers stand in a corridor at a hospital in Bengaluru, wearing blue overalls, masks as PPE. Image for representation/PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Saturday, July 25, 2020 - 11:27

A total of 22 COVID-19 patients in Bengaluru will be refunded the fees they were charged by private hospitals in excess of the rates fixed by the Karnataka government. The total amount for the 22 patients amounted to Rs 24 lakh.

This development came to light after senior IPS officer D Roopa tweeted about it. D Roopa was given the charge, along with IAS officer Harsh Gupta, of enforcing state government rates for COVID-19 treatment when patients are referred by government authorities.

In two tweets, D Roopa wrote, “My team, with enforcement minded Harsh Gupta IAS, has ensured that government rates are followed by hospitals. Painstakingly, nodal officer Ashok Gowda, AEE, has collected details of 22 patients overcharged. Their bank account number is taken. Amount of Rs 24 lakh, as in pic, will be remitted back to patients.” (sic)

She added, “Thanks to the hospital team too who cooperated in following government orders without resisting. We can't do without the cooperation and support of hospital staff and management.”

It may be recalled that Chief Secretary Vijaya Bhaskar had formed seven teams, each led by one IPS and one IAS officer, to reign in private hospitals after allegations of overcharging patients came to light. The team, which D Roopa was a part of, was overseeing three hospitals in West Bengaluru— BGS Global Institute of Medical Science and Hospital in Kengeri, Rajarajeshwari Hospital on Mysore Road and SSNMC Super Speciality Hospital in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. However, it is not clear which hospital was overcharging and has been asked to refund patients.

These teams have two other government officials working in Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) and one contractual Health Department staff member.

A notification by the Karnataka government had earlier stated that patients referred to a private hospital by the government should be charged Rs 5200 per day for general ward treatment, Rs 7000 per day for high dependency ward, Rs 8,500 for ICU and Rs 10,000 for the same with ventilator support.

A source in the state government involved in the pandemic management confirmed that this is the first action taken by any of the seven teams that have been formed for this purpose. The source added that while the team has been formed to ensure that government rates are complied with, both the chiefs of the state IAS and IPS were more concerned about availability of beds.