Maharastra: IMA protests over unilateral price cap for COVID treatment at private hospitals, violence against doctors
Maharashtra: At least 45000 doctors of 216 branches of IMA Maharashtra is protesting in front of the offices of civil administrative authorities against the government's decision of capping the price for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals and injustice towards doctors across the state.
IMA, Maharashtra president, Dr Avinash Bhondwe has recently denounced the alleged autocratic behaviour of the government stating that concerned authorities are issuing orders imposing norms on doctors without initiating any discussion and are constantly threatening the doctors to cancel their license if they complain against anything.
IMA alleged that "Hospitals are finding it difficult to meet the cost of oxygen, PPE kits, biomedical waste charges, staff salaries, disinfection at the current rates set for hospital ICUs. Therefore, out of 25000 hospitals in Maharashtra, it is time to close most of the hospitals."
Dr Bhondwe told Medical Dialogues that on May 20th, the Secretary of State of Maharashtra for Public Health issued a circular announcing the acquisition of 80 per cent of the beds in private hospitals in the state for the treatment of COVID patients and the rates charged at those hospitals. The rates were announced unilaterally, without discussing with the IMA or any of the doctors' organizations about how feasible they are, how affordable they are to run hospitals.
Moreover, the Chief Secretary & the Health Secretary of State for Maharashtra convened a meeting with IMA. After hearing the problems of the doctors, they issued an official GR signed by the Hon'ble Governor deciding to set up one state-level coordination and a district-level coordination and cooperation committee in each district of Maharashtra. To date, however, none of the decisions in that circular has been complied with. On the other hand, the threatening notices are being issued to doctors under the Epidemic Act 1897, the Disaster Management Act 2005, and MESMA.
Dr. Bhondwe further informed medical dialogues that on August 11, 2020, IMA representatives called on Hon'ble Health Minister Shri Rajesh ji Tope and gave a detailed written statement, explaining why the hospital rates are not feasible and affordable. The health minister agreed and accepted to meet the IMA delegation before August 31 to discuss and fix the rates anew.
In order to hold such a meeting before August 31, IMA repeatedly tried to contact health ministry. But completely ignoring all these facts, the government's health secretary issued a circular on 31st August announcing the new rates, again unilaterally with effect from 1st September.
IMA alleged that this was a complete betrayal of the promises made to the doctors. Instead of increasing the previous rate, the figures were kept the same, however, the ICU charges included patients' daily medications, laboratory tests, oxygen, though. Similarly, the charges of PPE kits were restricted to Rs.600/- per day for general patients and Rs.1200/- per day for ICUs.