December 13, 2020 4:46:55 am
The state health department has proposed extending the 80:20 reservation of beds in private hospitals until January, as a precaution against a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections and cap charges for beds reserved by the government.
With the post-Diwali spike in Mumbai and the increase in active cases in districts such as Palghar, Nashik, Nandurbar, Sindhudurg, Washim and Nagpur since November 20, state health officials said it is prudent to continue reserving beds in Private hospitals in case the active case load increases further in other districts. Maharashtra currently has more than 73,000 active cases. Mumbai, Thane, and Pune continue to make up the bulk of active infections. Mumbai has seen a rise in daily infections from 400 to 600 a month ago to 700 to 1000 now. Its active case load stands at 12,423 cases.
“The idea is to continue with the 80:20 formula until January. If the cases do not arise, we can always remember the decision later. We have presented the proposal, but the final decision will be made by the government in the next few days, “said a senior health official.
Private hospitals have opposed the government’s move, claiming they are incurring huge financial losses due to price and reserve limitation. Several hospital chiefs are scheduled to meet with the state health secretary and the BMC commissioner on Monday. Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state is likely to continue reserving hospital beds. “The final signature will be from the prime minister. We have not yet specified the percentage of beds reserved in hospitals. Depending on new cases in the next two or three days, we will accept a final call, ”Tope told The Indian Express.
Current state notification to reserve 80% of beds will continue until December 15. In a series of three notifications, the Maharashtra government had introduced price caps for treatment in private hospitals during the pandemic. On April 30, the state government capped the fees for various procedures in private hospitals. Hospitals in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel, and Pune that have a treatment package agreement with the General Insurance Public Sector Association (GIPSA) cannot charge more than the lowest bed category rates for patients. GIPSA is an association of government insurance companies that sets package rates for hospital surgeries.
For hospitals that do not have the GIPSA package rates, the notice provided a schedule of rates beyond which they cannot charge. For example, an angiogram would cost a patient no more than Rs 12,000, a normal delivery no more than Rs 75,000, a valve replacement was limited to Rs 3.23 lakh, a permanent pacemaker implantation at Rs 1.38 lakhs, a cataract surgery to Rs 25,000 and soon. Items such as pacemakers, personal protective equipment (PPE), intraocular lenses, stents, catheter, balloon, medical implants, consumables cannot be charged more than 10 percent of the net acquisition cost.
On May 21, in a second notification, the state government reserved 80 percent of beds in private hospitals and capped the prices of those beds for Covid and non-Covid patients. In a third notification on August 31, the state government extended the 80 percent reserve and the price cap until the end of November.
In October, however, the Nagpur court of the Bombay High Court struck down the price cap for non-Covid treatments in hospitals. The government of Maharashtra has appealed against the HC order in the Supreme Court. “Our proposal is to reduce the reserve percentage or eliminate it. All hospitals will meet with government officials to make the final decision on Monday, ”said Dr. Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at the Bombay hospital.
“We are bleeding financially. There are very few Covid-19 patients in our hospital and we are incurring huge financial losses. We have asked the government to admit patients in giant facilities, as there is a large capacity there, ”said Dr. V Ravishankar, director of operations at Lilavati Hospital.
Maharashtra is diagnosing between 4,000 and 5,000 new cases with fewer than 100 deaths a day. While the burden of active cases across the state has dropped, it has increased slightly in Mumbai since November 20 after Diwali. State officials anticipate a second wave for December or January due to back-to-back holidays and phased unlocking across the state.
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