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    SC Directive on Hospital Rates Sparks Debate

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    States and Union Territories have requested additional time and broader consultations with all stakeholders, including private hospitals, to address the Supreme Court’s directive issued in February regarding the standardization of rates for medical procedures and services. This information was revealed in a government affidavit filed on Monday in the apex court.

    The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by an association of doctors and hospitals that raised concerns over the government’s move to prescribe rates for all hospitals. The matter is scheduled for a hearing on September 10.

    Responding to a public interest litigation filed by an NGO, the apex court had instructed the central government to devise a concrete proposal specifying standard rates in consultation with states. Furthermore, the court warned of applying Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates for treatment services at private healthcare facilities until standardized rates are established.

    The court’s order has triggered widespread concern among private hospitals and investors, as the standardization of rates could significantly impact revenue and the commercial viability of hospital operations. Consequently, healthcare providers reached out to the health ministry and the court shortly after the SC ruling.

    During consultations conducted by the central government, some states advocated for more discussions, while others expressed apprehensions that rate-fixing might compromise the quality of healthcare and render healthcare setups unviable. In its affidavit, the government stated that states and UTs that had adopted the Clinical Establishments Act (CE Act), 2010, were willing to engage in rounds of discussions with stakeholders. They also sought the guidance and collaboration of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to expedite the process. However, states that had not adopted the CE Act highlighted provisions in their state Act determining the range or fixation of rates for medical services or procedures.

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