Private hospitals in Karnataka to challenge govt on 80% bed reservation

PHANA-Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association president told TNM that they will take the legal recourse to challenge the new order.
Beds for COVID-19 Patients
Beds for COVID-19 Patients
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Hours after Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar announced that the government will now mandate that private hospitals reserve 80% of beds in all hospitals across Bengaluru, the PHANA-Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association president told TNM that they will take the legal recourse to challenge the new order. Dr HM Prasanna said that private hospitals have still not received their payments dues from the first wave of the coronavirus and cannot survive 80% reservation this time. 

“They (the Karnataka government) want us to reserve 80% of the beds now. We have the option of legal redressal. The Delhi HC had struck down a similar order by the Delhi government. We are preparing for the legal battle now and will approach the HC soon,” Dr Prasanna told TNM

PHANA says that due to long overdue payments from the government, the private hospitals will not be able to survive if they comply with the new order. “During the earlier wave, we gave 50% of the beds to the Karnataka government across the state. In that the payment has not been made completely. Bengaluru hospitals have been paid around 60-70% of the total claims. Across Karnataka, more than 50% of the payments are pending, especially to medical colleges and private hospitals in tier two and three cities,” said Dr Prasanna

In that too, there have been shortcomings, says Dr Prasanna. "In cases where we have submitted a bill for an HDU (high-dependency unit) ward, they have released payment only for general wards and other such discrepancies are there. And we do not have a redressal forum to fight against this," he says.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the government had asked for private hospitals, medical colleges to reserve 50% of their non-emergency beds for cases referred by public health officials. The reservation applied not just to general beds but also HDU and ICU beds equipped with and without ventilators. The hospitals were allowed to use the remaining 50% of the beds for COVID-19 treatment under private quota as well as non-COVID-19 treatment

The Karnataka government had also fixed the tariffs for the beds reserved under government quota for Rs 5,200 per day in general wards, Rs 5,200 in HDUs and Rs 7,000 in ICUs and Rs 10,000 in ICUs with ventilators.

But PHANA has said that due to labourious processes put in place and other reasons, the payments have been long pending to the private hospitals. “Even during such a pandemic, instead of just looking at the discharge summary and the final bill, they want to go through the case files of nearly about 75,000 patients manually before releasing the payment. They have a restriction of releasing payment for around 200 bills per day irrespective of the amount of those bills,” Dr Prasanna told TNM

He said that delegations have taken this up repeatedly with Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, Additional Health Secretary Jawaid Akhtar and others but so far they have not received full payment.

Meanwhile, 66 private hospitals in Bengaluru have been fined by the BBMP for not complying with their order of reserving 50% of the beds for government quota. 

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