Telangana HC questions govt about refund of excess fees from penalised hospitals

The High Court also expressed concern over the state’s failure to release a new Government Order regarding the capping of rates related to COVID-19 treatment and safety equipment.
A bird's eye view of the Telangana High Court
A bird's eye view of the Telangana High Court
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A Telangana High court bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy asked the Advocate General, representing the state, about how many people who had raised complaints against hospitals for overcharging had been refunded the excess amounts spent on COVID-19 treatment. The court also noted that the state had initiated action against erring hospitals by cancelling their COVID-19 licenses. However, the court observed that cancellation doesn’t provide any reconciliation to those who have overpaid and that the issue needs a logical conclusion.

It was brought to the court’s notice that despite the orders of the High Court, the state had not released a fresh government order capping the rates of COVID-19 treatment and safety equipment. Chief Justice Hima Koli told the AG that he was being defiant. When asked how the state plans to make up for the loss of beds once licenses of hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients are revoked, the AG responded that the state has an adequate number of beds.

Chief Justice Hima Kohli asked the AG about where the people will go for a refund from the hospitals that have been penalised for overcharging. The Chief Justice felt that once the whip is cracked on these hospitals, they are less likely to repay the amounts as they will feel the worst has already come.  

The HC observed that the affidavit filed by the state government doesn’t have all the compliance details in full. The Chief Justice said that the details about measures, infrastructure, and steps taken have not been indicated, and that there are also no details about drugs. “This is as vague as it can be,” observed the court.

Noting the points in the affidavit, the Chief Justice asked the state why the 14 diagnostic laboratories that were to be operational by mid-May are still “in the pipeline.” The AG informed the court that the equipment has been procured and “will be operational soon.”       

Injections from Union Government

The state in its affidavit informed the High Court that it had not received any doses to treat Mucormycosis from May 26, despite being allocated the same. The Chief Justice asked the counsel of the Union Government for an explanation and also directed the Union Government to make available the allotted vials immediately as it is imperative for the treatment of black fungus.

The court directed that the Director of Public Health of Telangana should be present to provide clarity to the questions raised and hence the matter was posted to June 2.

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