Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, on Saturday, warned private hospitals against fleecing coronavirus patients and announced that a rate card for charging people battling the pathogen in private health facilities will be fixed in a day or two.
Two rounds of talks with private hospitals have been concluded on the issue of rates for treating COVID-19 patients, the Minister said adding "rate fixation" will be in place in a day or two.
Asked about some hospitals allegedly fleecing patients, Vijayabaskar said it has come to the notice of the government too that charges were on the higher side in some hospitals.
"This is (high charges) for sure wrong. This is the time to serve; do service," he told reporters after inspecting a new Covid Care Centre (CCC) with 1,400 beds at Pulianthope in North Chennai to house coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.
Apart from four large government medical college hospitals in Chennai, the CCCs are functioning out of several locations, including some belonging to private colleges.
"I appeal to private hospitals. They should approach patients with a sense of service like the government," he said.
The rate card for services offered will be in tune with the amenities in a health facility and it shall specify charges for individual rooms, shared spaces and the general ward, the Minister pointed out. The rate structure will be released by the government and in case any private hospital was found overcharging, action shall be taken against them as per the Clinical Establishments Act, he said.
Similarly, negotiations were on with private laboratories to cut down rates for COVID-19 testing, he said. As per ICMR guidelines, the rate was fixed at Rs 4,500 for testing and talks were on to bring it down further, he said. The government has fixed Rs 2,500 as the fee for testing using the Chief Minister's Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme in private facilities, he said. In the government sector hospitals, the testing is done free of cost.
To a question on the high number of cases in Chennai, he said testing will be further scaled up by intensifying door- to-door surveillance and even people with even mild flu like symptoms were being covered.
"There is no need to fear the numbers and there should be no politics based on numbers."