Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate on Tuesday, the Bombay High Court sought to know from the Maharashtra government if it had any mechanism in place to ensure that private hospitals and nursing homes did not overcharge for personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and other protective gear. A test drive conducted by Mirror on Wednesday shows there is no mechanism in place to keep the prices in check.
Mirror visited four nursing homes in western suburbs between Vile Parle and Borivali, with less than 50 beds, to know the rate card to admit a Covid-19 patient. The rate put up by these nursing homes were between Rs 18,500 for a normal bed to Rs 35,000 for ICU bed per day. This cost does not include medicines and blood investigation charges. Not only this, the nursing homes also asked for deposits of Rs 1 lakh for normal ward admission and 2 lakh if the patient needs to be admitted in the ICU.
On May 21, the state government capped the Covid-19 patient bed charges and fixed the charges at Rs 4,000 for normal bed, Rs 7,500 for ICU bed without ventilator and Rs 9,000 for ICU with ventilator. The charges should include drugs, doctor consultation fees, nursing, food and bed charges.
However, none of the nursing homes we visited could give even the most basic bed for Rs 4,000 a day.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, told Mirror that the officers appointed in the ward war rooms have been asked to monitor charges and inspect hospitals as well. Four private hospitals in Borivali have been stripped of their status as Covid-19 treatment facilities following multiple complaints of overcharging patients by BMC three days ago.
Vinod Mishra, BJP group leader and corporator from Malad, who had raised the issue of nursing homes charging exorbitant rates, said, “BMC has no check on them. The smaller nursing homes are charging more than bigger hospitals.”
Dr Deepak Baid, president, Association of Medical Consultants, said that capping of rates was forced by the state government. “It was never discussed with us and our suggestions were not taken. It is not possible to run a Covid-19 facility with the capped rates.”
Lifeline Medicare Hospital, Gokuldham
The rate card provided to us ranged from Rs 18,500 for a general category normal bed to Rs 27,500 for ICU bed with ventilator, which includes bed charges, doctor charges, RMO charges, Covid disposable, bio medical waste charges but it doesn’t include drugs charges, blood investigation charges, non invasive ventilator cost and if patient needs to be intubated to put him on ventilator the intubation charges will cost extra. ICU doctors will also cost more.
Geeta Gupta who was supervising and present at the centre provided the rate card and explained everything to the reporter. Gupta said that this is a fixed rate card. When asked if there were any beds available for Rs 4,000, she said, ‘Sorry, we don’t have any isolation bed for 4,000’.
Lifeline multispeciality hospital, Malad West
As per the rate card at the hospital, a normal bed would cost Rs 19,500. For single room, Rs 21,050; for ICU Rs 29,550. Again, no drugs or blood investigation charges included. The hospital charges include oxygen charges, pulse oxymeter check, drip charges, Covid care, PPE kit, biomedical waste and miscellaneous other charges. The hospital also charges a deposit of Rs 1 lakh for a normal bed.
Advanced multi speciality hospital, Vile Parle
Here, the normal bed charges are Rs 20,000, and for ICU bed it’s Rs 30,000 a day. This hospital says that in their package, the doctors fees, drug charges and blood investigation are not included. Clearly no bed anywhere for Rs 4000 or for Rs 7000. Dr Jigisha Sayed, the spokesperson for the hospital, justified the charges and said that the hospital is not forcing anybody to get admitted at the hospital. “We explain the charges to the patient and if the patient is ready to pay, then only we admit the patient. Even BMC war room sends patients to our hospital and they are aware of the charges.” Dr Sayed added, “Good chest physicians are only ready to come if they get fees, it is not possible to work with the rate card fixed by the government.”
Sanchaiti superspeciality nursing home, Kandivali East
The supervisor Santosh Patil, who was sitting at the reception, said that for ICU bed with oxygen support, the cost would be around Rs 30-35,000 and for normal bed Rs 18 to 20,000. Patil also said that it doesn’t include medicines and blood investigations and there would be a compulsory deposit of Rs 1.5 lakh. “Sorry, no bed for 4000 or 7000,” he said. – Mumbai Mirror