Delhi Govt set to curb medical bills

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Amid allegations of excessive charges and medical negligence by a few private healthcare facilities, the Delhi government is planning tough measures to contain such practices.

The government has made a proposal to cap prices for all drugs and consumables which are not on the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). The proposal caps the price of the non-NLEM drugs at 50 per cent over the procurement price.

According to a draft advisory, the private hospitals “cannot hold hostage” bodies of patients if families don’t clear the bill.

“Body of any deceased patient cannot be forcibly withheld by a hospital and denied to the family for want of payment of due bills. There has to be dignity in death. A body cannot be held hostage just for bills,” Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said.

The proposal further says if the patient dies within six hours of his/her admission in that case the hospital had to waive 50 per cent of the total bill. The same would be 20 per cent if death occurs in 24 hours.

While speaking during a press conference, Jain said that the proposal does not imply that the bills would be waived. The hospitals will have every right to take legal action in case the payments are not made later by the families.

The draft proposal has been put up in the public domain and the government has invited suggestions and objections for a period of 30 days.

The draft advisory has been prepared on the basis of recommendations of a nine-member expert panel. Headed by Director-General of Health Services Kirti Bhushan, the panel was set up by the Arvind Kejriwal government on December 13 last year.

“The draft advisory would be implemented by amending the Delhi Nursing Homes Registration Act, 1953, and eventually, it would mean that a private hospital or a nursing home could lose its licence to operate in Delhi, in case it violates these norms,” Jain said.

NLEM drugs should be the first preference, but in case of other drugs, they should bill those items and consumables at their respective MRP or the sum total of the procurement price and 50 per cent mark up charges or whichever is less, the advisory said.

The advisory also said that any private hospital or nursing home shall not refuse treatment to any patient brought in emergency condition.

It also has made proposals on surgeries and other medical procedures.

An additional surgery or procedure performed on the patient should cost only 50 per cent of the original cost. High-risk package (for surgeries) should not cost 20 per cent more than the assigned cost, it said.

A series of cases of negligence and gross overcharging by private hospitals created huge storm last year.

Seven year old Adya died of dengue in Gurugrams Fortis hospital in November last year. Her family was charged Rs 16 lakh by Fortis Hospital.

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