Courts Update Madras HC directs Puducherry govt to reimburse COVID patients...

Madras HC directs Puducherry govt to reimburse COVID patients charged by exclusive Covid Care Centres

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Chennai, Jun 12 (ILNS) The Madras High Court has directed the Government of Puducherry to reimburse the payments made by patients to private medical colleges that have been earmarked as exclusive Covid Care Centres by the government.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, while hearing a plea seeking directions to the Government of Union Territory of Puducherry to ensure free treatment to Covid patients in the UT, yesterday noted: “This submission of the fourth respondent gives more credence to the issue raised by the petitioner that patients were required to make some payments, whether for tests, medicines or treatment, when such patients ought not to have been charged anything at all since the fourth respondent’s medical facility was deemed to be a Government hospital upon being requisitioned for the purpose.”

The petition was filed on the ground that private hospitals and medical colleges, which have been earmarked as Covid treatment centres by the Government of Puducherry, have been demanding fees and charges from patients despite not being so entitled.

It was submitted by private medical colleges and institutions so earmarked that no money has been coming from the local government, even to provide for the daily diet of many patients who have taken admission.

“Pathological and other tests had to be conducted, medicines, particularly expensive antibiotics and even steroids had to be administered, oxygen had to be supplied and critical care was provided in several cases,” mentioned the private hospitals .

They further contended that a private party is unlikely to continuously fund treatment without being reimbursed.

The Government of Puducherry submitted that some payments have been made to the private medical colleges. For subsequent bills raised by the medical colleges, the veracity of the bills need to be looked into, it added.

The Bench observed, “It is understandable that there will be a time lag between the money spent and the bills raised and a further time lag between the bills received and payments made, ascertaining the veracity thereof.

“However, to the extent that some charges may have been obtained by the fourth respondent from the patients directly, fullest particulars thereof should be disclosed to the Union Territory for the relevant patients to be entitled to obtain reimbursement thereof from the Government of the Union Territory,” it added.

The Court has adjourned the matter to July 16, to ascertain the position regarding reimbursement of payments made by the patients to private medical colleges, and directed the petitioner and the local Government to make all patients, who have made payments to such private medical colleges for COVID-19 treatment, aware that they are entitled to reimbursement of the payments made. ILNS/BG/RJ

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