Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said that the government has reduced the rates of the COVID-19 tests conducted by private laboratories from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,200. Talking to PTI, Tope said the lowering of rates for the tests would provide a relief to the people. "Rs 2,200 will be charged for collecting the swabs through viral transport media (VTM) from hospitals, while it would cost Rs 2,800 for collection of swab from home.
Earlier, the charges were Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,200 respectively," he said.
The revised rates are the maximum these labs can charge. District collectors can negotiate with private labs to reduce the rates further, Tope said.
"If the private labs charge more than the prescribed upper limit, legal action would be taken against them," he said, claiming that the new rates will be the lowest in the country.
The minister said that at present, there are 91 labs in the state for COVID-19 testing and about four to five are in the pipeline.
According to him, the government had last week formed a four-member committee to fix the rates of COVID-19 tests conducted by authorised private laboratories in the state.
State Health Assurance Society CEO Sudhakar Shinde headed the committee, which had Joint Director of Directorate of Medical Education and Research Ajay Chandanwale and Grant Government Medical College and Hospital professor Amita Joshi as its members and Health Services director as member secretary.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has allowed 44 government and 36 private laboratories in the state to carry out coronavirus tests. While the tests are free at the government-run laboratories, the ICMR had fixed charges at private labs at Rs 4,500.
The committee was formed as the ICMR had conveyed to negotiate with private labs and revise the rates. The kits required for conducting the tests were being imported earlier when the charges of tests at private laboratories were fixed by the ICMR.
However, as the kits are being manufactured in the country itself, the ICMR had conveyed to hold talks with the private laboratories and fix the test rates.