Reconsider cap on PPE & Covid-19 test rate, hospitals urge West Bengal, Health News, ET HealthWorld

KOLKATA: The Association of Hospitals of Eastern India (AHEI), an umbrella body of private hospitals, is planning to write to the state government, seeking a reconsideration of the price cap on PPE and Covid tests. While hospitals have agreed to stick to the doctor consultation fee cap that has been fixed at Rs 1,000 per day, they have pointed out that it could be difficult to abide by the cap on Covid test and PPE charges. The AHEI has sought an evaluation of their existing charges for these two, which they believe are reasonable, from the government.

“We are abiding by the government order. But we will be appealing to the state government to reconsider the charges fixed, especially on Covid test and PPE kits because they are lower than what hospitals are spending on these,” said Rupak Barua, president of AHEI.

On behalf of private hospitals treating Covid patients, the association will be presenting a list of expenses they incur on PPE and Covid testing kits for the government to evaluate in the hope that it agrees to revise the price cap on these items.

“For example, there has been no reduction in the price of kits for testing in the closed system by GeneExpert and TRUENAT. While it is possible to lower the cost of RT-PCR tests, capping the price at Rs 2,250 for GeneExpert and TRUENAT will be a financial blow for us since it does not even cover the cost of those kits,” Barua argued.

A kit for GeneExpert costs Rs 2,900 while that of a TRUENAT is about Rs 2,600 for a positive sample. And then, there is the cost of viral transport medium, PPE kits of lab technicians and microbiologists and other overhead expenses in addition to the cost of the kits, it was pointed out.

“Also, it is not only about the PPE suits. There are masks, gloves and other sanitization expenses to ensure protection to each healthcare worker. Hospitals are conducting regular sanitization, fumigation and other infection control activities that are expensive. That is the reason why AHEI has decided to appeal to the government to reconsider the fixed amount,” added the AHEI president.

While private hospitals are waiting for AHEI to take up the matter with the government, some have already implemented the price caps. Medica Superspecialty Hospital, for instance, has lowered its consultation and PPE charges to Rs 1,000 from Saturday. “We have followed the price cap and will wait for further instructions from the government,” said chairperson Alok Roy.

Another private hospital said it was planning a series of measures, including Covid packages, to stick to the price regulations. “We have already initiated a host of steps, like rationalizing PPE use and reducing hospital stay by shifting suspects and those with mild symptoms to our satellite healthcare units. The test charges prescribed are a bit too low and should be revised. Covid packages are also on the anvil though everything will now depend on how the government responds to our plea,” said an official.

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