New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear a petition demanding fixing of rates of Covid-19 treatment in private hospitals and asked the Narendra Modi government to file a response.
The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, M.R. Shah and V. Ramasubramanian directed a copy of the petition to be given to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and asked the latter to receive instructions on the plea from the Centre within a week.
The case will be heard some time next week.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Kolkata resident Avishek Goenka, who has submitted that according to insurers, “private hospitals are charging (for Covid-19 treatment) as per their whims and fancies”.
The petition also claimed that insurance companies are not settling full medical bills immediately, citing the pandemic. This is “manifestly arbitrary” and hence, violative of the fundamental rights under Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and liberty), it asserted.
The plea sought full settlement of claims by the insurers within 24 hours of receipt of claims, at least to the extent of the minimum cost of treatment fixed by the authorities.
‘Affluent being kept in government facilities’
The petition also submitted that the government authorities are not being able to offer enough beds in private hospitals for post Covid-19 infection treatment, even to those who can afford it.
“…in the process, many of the affluent are being kept in Government facilities, which are not upto the standards, which they are used to and hence adding to their existing misery,” it said, asserting that this violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
“Whether a person who is willing and has means to afford quality healthcare could be forced to go to a Government owned or aided – quarantine center or Hospital, against his choice denying him quality of life by the Respondent in the name of a pandemic particularly, when the same is without any reason?” it added.
The petition also alleged absence of a “transparent mechanism” for availing private quarantine and post-infection facilities.
“Whether the Central Government can issue mandatory directions to State Government, during the prevalence of the Pandemic (COVID-19) with regard to maintenance of minimum standard of facilities being provided to infected patients and on other treatment related issues as per the standards of the World Health Organisation?” it further asked.