Maha: 17 private hospitals issued notice for inflating COVID bills, directs to refund excess amount
Maharashtra: Taking strict compliance of inflated bills, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has recently issued a show-cause notice to 17 private hospitals and directed them to refund the excess amount after it was found that the hospitals have overcharged the COVID patients to the tune of Rs 1.82 crore.
As per a recent media report, the 17 private facilities that came under the radar of TMC include Vedant hospital, Titan hospital, Siddhi Vinayak maternity hospital, Arogya multi-specialty hospital, Kaushalya hospital, Thane health care hospital, Metropol multi-speciality hospital, Life Care hospital, Panandikar hospital, Swastik hospital, Ekta hospital, Bethany hospital, Sapphire hospital, Kalsekar hospital, Wellam hospital, Swayam hospital and Diya multi-specialty hospital.
Despite the state government's order issued on May 21 to cap the price for COVID treatment in private facilities, several complaints were received by the civic body. Complying with the same, between July 10 and August 21, eight teams of auditors were appointed by TMC Commissioner Dr. Vipin Sharma to check the billings of 17 hospitals in the city. The audit teams checked 4,106 bills from July 10 to August 21 and found an excess amount totaling Rs 1.82 crore in 1,362 bills, the civic body told PTI in a statement.
TMC issued show-cause notices to these hospitals following which they refunded Rs 26.68 lakh to the patients. The corporation accepted submissions by hospitals for the excess amount worth Rs 15.27 lakh, but these medical facilities are yet to refund Rs 1.40 crore, the TMC stated.
The issue was also flagged by MNC leader Sandeep Pachange, who had a conversation with TMC deputy commissioner Vishwanath Kelkar demanding strict actions against hospitals fleecing patients in name of COVID-19 treatment.
Resultantly, Swastik Hospital came under scrutiny, followed by Horizon Prime hospital that was sealed for a month and prohibited from treating Covid-19 patients after an audit showed the hospital was inflating its bills and charging extra for personal protective equipment and treatment. Of its 57 bills scrutinized, 56 bills were found inflated.
Presently, TMC decided to allow the other 17 hospitals under audit to carry on with its operations while the eight teams of auditors will continue its scrutiny of hospital bills in Thane.
"Our aim is to not stop these hospitals from functioning, as there is a huge burden on the health resources. We have instructed the hospitals to refund the money to patients, which is more important at this point," Thane Commissioner Dr Vipin Sharma told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, Titan hospital, administrator Dr Shahrjan Singh told the daily, "We are not overcharging patients, we have given our accounts to TMC auditor for clarification."
For instance, as per the May 21 notification, while a patient in the isolation ward cannot be charged more than Rs 4,000 per day, those in intensive care units (ICU) needed to shell out Rs 7,500 per day. Ventilator charges were capped at Rs 9,000 per day.