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The Madras High Court on Tuesday took judicial cognisance of reports that private hospitals were overcharging patients amid the COVID-19 crisis (S Jimraj Milton v. Union of India and ors).
While hearing allied issues raised in a PIL moved by Advocate Jimraj Milton, the Bench of Justices Vineet Kothari and R Suresh Kumar observed on Tuesday,
In his petition, Milton had raised grievance over the State Government's intimation that willing persons may opt for private hospitals to obtain treatment for COVID-19 at their own costs.
The petitioner had argued that as per the Disaster Management Act, and given that health is part of the State's responsibilities, the Government should bear the costs for COVID-19 treatment.
Taking serious note of the issues raised, and given that the situation is of an urgent and emergent nature, the Court on Tuesday gave the Central Government and the State Government a week's time to file their response in the matter.
In particular, the Court has asked the Government authorities to file their response on the following aspects,
The treatment and management of COVID-19 in private hospitals, along with the Government hospitals, where, of course, free treatment is provided to COVID-19 patients.
Details on the aspects of the cost to be borne for such treatment in private hospitals,
Details regarding providing of caps on charges, if any
Whether any complaint redressal system is in place for overcharging by private hospitals. If such a system is in place, how many complaints have been received and redressed, and in what manner have they been addressed.
The matter will be taken up next on June 16.
Advocate S Parthasarathy appeared for the petitioner.
Central Government Standing Counsel K Srinivasamurthy appeared for the Central Government.
Additional Advocate General SR Rajagopal, assisted by Government Pleader V Jayaprakash Narayan appeared for the State authorities.