BENGALURU: Health minister K Sudhakar said on Sunday that 577 private hospitals were issued notices for taking money from the government as well as charging the patients for Covid treatment they provided.
According to a statement released by his office, the minister has ordered a probe into patient complaints against hospitals and serve them a notice. The department then found that hospitals had earned Rs 18.8 crore by employing this – charging the patient and claiming money from the government – method.
“Based on this, notices were served to 577 hospitals. So far, Rs 1.5 crore has been repaid by hospitals to 403 families of Covid-19 patients,” the statement read. Sudhakar, while pointing out that there are numerous complaints from patients, directed the hospitals to repay the money. He added that the government has now set up district-level committees to look into the discrepancies.
He, however, did not give out the names of the hospitals, the break-up of money owed or the details of the type of treatment received by the patients. Under the referral concept of Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka scheme, some patients were treated by private hospitals under the government quota.
Could be result of clerical mistake, says Phana chief
The initiative was designed to help the families of Covid-19 patients. As per the scheme, the patients’ treatment expenses were borne by Suvarna Arogya Surakshana Trust. However, the government has now found that some private hospitals had collected fees from patients as well as from the trust.
“The treatment cost of Covid-19 patients has been covered by the government. From the first wave in March 2020 to March 2021, the government has paid Rs 391.2 crore; and during the second wave from April 2021 to December 2021, it paid more than Rs 376.7 crore, while the cost of treatment during the third wave from January 2022 to March 2022 was Rs 11.8 crore,” Sudhakar said.
Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (Phana) president Dr Prasanna HM said: “The number of discrepancies in bills are small compared to the number of patients treated for Covid by hospitals. There were nearly 2.5 lakh patients treated. The discrepancy found in 270 bills is what the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) has told us, which is a small percentage of the entire episode. There may be some discrepancies or errors. Some may have been discrepancies and we don’t know if some people have done it purposefully.”
While stating that the department can take action if any hospital is found guilty, Prasanna said: “We are not blaming the hospital owners. I don’t think someone would try to make money out of this. It could be a mistake by the clerical staff, and needs to be investigated.”
He added that Phana was clear in its stand and that it has given an advisory on how to charge private patients and stick to the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust rate for government patients and have asked hospitals to be transparent and honest.