High Court orders uniform rates for COVID tests

High Court orders uniform rates for COVID tests in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday imposed consistent prices for different Covid-19 tests. It is for Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh, including Rapid Antigen Tests and RT-PCR.

The court’s orders came during a video conference hearing on the Covid-19 issue by justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh.

The individual governments have been taking “necessary efforts” to handle the pandemic. The Bench issues its directives, adding that certain concerns require its action.

The Bench directs that the rates for covid testing in the two states and the UT must be uniform.

“We believe that the state of Haryana and the UT should examine the rates prescribed and act accordingly,” Bench said. They were citing the Punjab government’s reduced pricing for the purpose.

The high court notes that the Chandigarh administration reduces the HRCT (high-resolution CT-chest) rate. In the Union, territory rates fall to Rs 1,800. Also that Punjab and Haryana should ask private diagnostic centers in their districts to do the same.

The Bench also emphasizes the importance of having ‘ICU Control Rooms’ in hospitals. Also stating that patients’ families cannot be left to their suffering in the absence of knowledge regarding their medical situations.

Senior Counsel Anupam Gupta had previously addressed the problem of patients and their relatives needing to communicate with one another. Moreover, pointing out to the high court that PGIMER, Chandigarh, has established such an ICU Control Room.

The Bench agreed with Gupta’s argument and urged the two states and the UT to build up comparable control rooms in all hospitals. To guarantee that patients and their relatives may communicate with one another. And also that people are aware of their patients’ medical situations.

The High Court Bench also discussed the issue of private hospitals overcharging for treatment.

And instructed authorities to have a report of their investigation into allegations of overcharging ready to be given to the court as and when it is requested to determine if they warrant court action.

The two states also informed the court about the black fungus instances. The court believed that the two states and the UT should consider the Centre’s guidelines for screening, diagnosis, and management of mucormycosis and take the required procedures.

Senior counsel Rupinder Khosla, who was designated amicus curiae by the court, had previously cited issues such as private hospitals overcharging consumers for treatment, exorbitant fees for CT scans and HRCT (Chest), and the regulatory framework for varied rates to be charged by laboratories.

The HRCT rate for private diagnostic centers in Chandigarh has been at Rs 1,800. While the RT-PCR and RAT test fees have been set at Rs 900 and Rs 500, respectively, in accordance with the court’s directives.

Private diagnostic centres in Haryana charge Rs 2,100 for HRCT, according to Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan, while his Punjab counterpart Atul Nanda said his state government has mandated that private labs charge no more than Rs 350 for the Rapid Antigen Test and Rs 450 for the RT-PCR test.

“Lastly, this court shall be failing in its duty if it does not recognize the efforts done by front line employees who have offered their services in this need of the hour,” the Bench remarked before setting June 28 as the next date for hearing the case.

Read Next: Punjab extends restrictions in the state till June 10

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