BBMP referred 43,863 COVID-19 cases to pvt. hospitals


The ‘partnership’ between the civic body and private hospitals to fight the pandemic has come at a steep price.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) referred 43,863 COVID-19 cases under Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) initiative to private hospitals. The total cost for the treatment of these patients amounted to ₹292.23 crore.

This data was released as part of a Right to Information (RTI) query by lawyer and social activist T. Narasimha Murthy.

The activist himself contracted COVID-19, following which the BBMP referred him for treatment under SAST to a private hospital. However, during the time of his discharge, the hospital demanded ₹50,000, which was later brought down to ₹10,000. This, even though the hospital’s spend on treatment of patients admitted under SAST gets reimbursed completely.

This incident prompted Mr. Murthy to file an application under RTI seeking information on the number of COVID-19 positive cases referred by BBMP to private hospitals and the amount spent. Of the 43,863 cases referred to private hospitals, 42,467 claims for ₹202.23 crore have been submitted. According to the data, 31,624 claims for ₹133.20 crore had been settled, as on January 13, 2021.

Mr. Murthy told The Hindu that his case of being charged was not an exception. There have been several complaints about private hospitals charging money at the time of discharge from patients admitted under SAST, he alleged. “As per the terms of reference for COVID-19 empanelled hospitals, the hospital is supposed to provide cashless treatment and submit claims for treatment,” he pointed out.

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Following several complaints, the hospital administration (in his case) refunded the money and even gave him an apology letter, along with a compensation of ₹1.

“Instead of compensating the private hospitals, the BBMP could have better utilised the money spent in not just upgrading the existing health facilities and/or constructed a super-speciality hospital to make health facilities more accessible to citizens,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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