In a late night announcement on Thursday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said his government had acquired 80 per cent of beds across all nursing homes and private hospitals in the state. The beds have been acquired till August 31 this year, as the state has reported more than 40,000 positive cases of coronavirus so far. With this, the Maharashtra government has also capped the prices of treatments that can be billed to patients and will now regulate the usage of private hospital bed capacity. According to the details, the order for acquiring 80 per cent of beds was passed following days of negotiation with private hospitals.
The hospitals can, however, charge their own rates in the remaining 20 percent beds. With the new move, the bed capacity will be expanded, while the issue of exorbitant prices charged by the private hospitals on patients who do not have medical insurance will also be addressed.
The order covers hospitals run by charitable trusts, including all the big Mumbai hospitals such as HN Reliance, Lilavati, Breach Candy, Jaslok, Bombay Hospital, Bhatia, Wockhardt, Nanavati, Fortis, LH Hiranandani and PD Hinduja among others.
The government’s notification directs private hospitals in Maharashtra to increase the number of operational beds in order to accommodate the maximum number of patients for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. The move will open up around 4,400 hospital beds in the private sector in Mumbai alone.
Under the government's latest move, routine ward and isolation bed rates have been capped at Rs 4,000. For ICU beds without ventilators, rates have been fixed at Rs 7,500 per day while an ICU bed with ventilator support will be billed at Rs 9,000. The government also capped package rates of nearly 270 procedures and surgeries, including cancer treatments.
Further, the cost for an angiography procedure has been capped at Rs 12,000 and an angioplasty will be charged a maximum Rs 1.2 lakh. Normal delivery at a private hospital cannot charge more than Rs 75,000 while delivery through a basic caesarean section has been capped at Rs 86,250.
The revised prices are applicable for patients who do not have medical insurance and those who have exhausted their medical insurance cover and healthcare providers in Mumbai, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Panvel and Thane, who have agreements with insurance companies, cannot charge more than the lowest bed category rates agreed.
The order said that the government and civic bodies will also refer patients for admission under the regulated portion of hospitals' capacity for both COVID and non-COVID treatments.
Maharashtra recorded 2,345 new Covid-19 cases with 64 deaths on Thursday. With this, the state has recorded 41,642 cases and 1,454 deaths so far.
At 1,408, it also discharged the highest number of patients on Thursday, taking the count of total recoveries to 11,726. Although the recovery rate is slower than the rest of India, Maharashtra is discharging around 800 to 1,000 patients every day.
Mumbai, meanwhile, reported 1,382 new cases on Thursday, taking its overall count to 25,500. It also recorded 41 deaths, with its total toll reaching 882.