Supreme Court Issues Ultimatum: Standardize Hospital Charges or Enforce CGHS Rates, Directs Centre

1 Mar 2024 • The Supreme Court of India has issued orders directing the Central Government to standardize rates for medical procedures across all states.

What Led to This Moment

  • This development was spurred by a PIL filed by an NGO, shedding light on the glaring disparities in hospital rates across the country.
  • The PIL specifically invoked Rule 9 of the Clinical Establishment Rules 2012, urging the Centre to determine patient fees. This rule mandates hospitals and clinical establishments to display service and facility rates, following the Centre's guidelines to maintain valid registrations.
  • The Supreme Court asserted that every citizen of India holds a fundamental right to healthcare. The court emphasized that the government cannot evade its responsibility in ensuring this right.
  • The court spotlighted the stark contrast in prices, citing the example of cataract surgery, a procedure that costs around ₹10,000 in a government hospital but can range from ₹30,000 to ₹1,40,000 in a private facility.

Private Hospital Concerns: A Looming Catastrophe?

  • Executives at private hospitals have voiced their apprehensions, labeling the move as "catastrophic" for the industry, expressing doubts about its potential impact on healthcare quality.

Government's Response and the Way Forward

  • In response to the Supreme Court's directive, the Central Government is now tasked with setting standard procedure rates within a month. The court has made it clear that failure to comply may prompt consideration of the implementation of standardized rates as prescribed in the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

For doctors across India, the prospect of standardized medical costs signals a potential paradigm shift. The potential impact of standardized rates on the industry's dynamics and the quality of healthcare services remains uncertain.

Source: ET | Read full story

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