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The Supreme Court today sought the Centre's response in a PIL praying for a direction to the authorities to bring in a mechanism where COVID-19 patients can receive treatment at medical facilities of their choice. (Avishek Goenka vs UOI)
The PIL also prays for uniform pricing for similar categories of rooms, treatment, et al in private hospitals.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah, and V Ramasubramanian directed that a copy of the petition to be served to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while fixing the matter for hearing after one week.
The petition filed by one Avishek Goenka primarily raises the concern that a COVID-19 patient should be able to choose which medical facility to be admitted in, based on his choice and on affordability. As on date, patients are not given this choice, the petition claims.
This is on account of the government not being able to provide enough beds in private hospitals, the plea states. Therefore, a prayer is also made to direct the government to enrol more private hospitals to provide COVID-19 treatment and care.
If a person is allowed to go to a facility of their choice, it would reduce the burden on the government hospitals, the petition says. Such choice should be offered so that patients who can afford treatment at private hospitals do not occupy beds in government facilities.
Having said that, the fees charged by private hospitals should be uniform for similar type of treatment, the petition submits. Considering that the government has failed to give a broadbase on the charging protocol, it has led to the private hospitals charging exorbitantly and the same should not be the case, it is argued. Such irrational charging by private hospitals, the plea claims, impinges upon the tight to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
A direction is also sought for insurance companies to immediately settle full claims, which are raised as per government-specified rates.
The petition is filed through Dharmaprabhas Law Associates.