In a case title – Kerala Private Hospitals Association vs. Advocate Sabu P. Joseph a divisional bench was comprising of Kerala High Court on June 23, 2021 (Wednesday) suspend the monopoly of the Central Government order that “authorized private hospitals to fix room rents for treatment of Covid – 19 patients.”
The review petition was files by one of the Kerala Private Hospitals Association seeks help to reviw the High Court’s decision to the state “’fix Covid-19 treatment charges in a petition complaining of private hospitals overcharging patients."
The State Government had issued an order dated 16th June 2021 “ allowing private hospitals to decide the rates 'for other categories of beds like private rooms and suites' amidst the pandemic. This empowered the private hospitals to fix their own room rents for Covid patients although with a condition that the rates be display prominent."This gave the power to the private hospitals to fix their own room rents for the coming Covid – 19 patients in which the rates are sufficient or prominent."
It was alleged that this significant order curtail the basic objective of the previous order on 10 the May , 2021 “this order took away the primary objective of the previous order dated 10th May 2021 whereby the rates fixed for the beds included all corollary charges like nursing, boarding, and doctor's fee. This move sanctioned the private hospitals to go back to their earlier system of charges, the petition read."
The Avocte K. Anand who is representing the petitioner submitted that if any Covid – 19 patiets came during it so it will not be dined for treatment. And the current order purportedly not clarified the obejective.
Justice Devan Ramachandra and Dr. Kauser Edappagath while hearing the case found that “while hearing the petition found that a mere display of the price would be of no avail to an ordinary person who approaches for COVID-19 treatment, since, at that time he would really have no choice, his life being in peril."
The bench further observed that: "what has been now done by the Government through this order is to allow theprivate hospitals to fix any rate for the rooms and suites and thistakes away much of the laudatory objective of its first order dated10.05.2021 because, as is clear therefrom, the rates fixed for thebeds includes all corollary charges like nursing, boarding,doctor's fee, etc. Now, by allowing the private hospitals to fix any rate for their rooms and suites, they have become empowered to go back to the earlier situation in charges, albeit, with a condition that such rates be displayed prominently. We are of the view thatsuch a display would be of no avail to an ordinary person whoapproaches for COVID-19 treatment, since, at that time, he would really have no choice, his life being in peril"
The Court held that the next hearing will be held on 30th June , 2021.
“Our minds certainly travel to more aspects to say, but we choose to refrain from doing so because an opportunity must be given to the State to consider the issues in its right perspective. However, in the meanwhile, we cannot allow the Government Order dated 16.06.2021 to operate for the reasons stated above and therefore, deem it appropriate to suspend it till the next hearing date."