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Centre Rejects Uniform Rate Fixing for Private Hospitals

In a recent development, the Centre has conveyed to the Supreme Court its opposition to the idea of mandating fixed rates for medical procedures in private hospitals. Emphasizing the need for state autonomy in determining healthcare costs, the Centre has presented a pricing template to states, underscoring the importance of regional factors in setting medical tariffs.

Regional Variability in Healthcare Costs

According to a 37-page affidavit submitted to the apex court, the Centre highlights the disparity in medical expenses across different regions, attributing it to factors like geographical location, hospital type, and the expertise of medical practitioners. Acknowledging this variability, the Centre advocates for state-specific determinations of standardized medical costs.

Challenges of Uniform Pricing

The affidavit further elucidates the complexities involved in implementing a uniform pricing system. It suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach might not be feasible due to diverse regional dynamics and the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including private healthcare providers. Additionally, the Centre raises concerns about the potential adverse effects of fixed pricing on the quality and competitiveness of the healthcare sector.

Court’s Response and Stakeholder Perspectives

The Supreme Court, while considering the plea, has accepted the intervention of prominent medical bodies such as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI). These organizations, supported by the Centre’s stance, argue against the standardization of rates, citing potential repercussions on healthcare quality and financial sustainability.

State Perspectives and Future Course of Action

During discussions with the Centre, several states expressed reservations about fixed pricing, citing concerns about market interference and compromised healthcare standards. While some states, like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, oppose rate fixing, others, including those governed by the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010, are open to dialogue and seek guidance from the Ministry of Health.

As the debate unfolds, it becomes evident that the issue of pricing in private healthcare demands a nuanced approach that balances the interests of stakeholders while ensuring quality and accessibility of medical services. With divergent perspectives from states and stakeholders, the path forward necessitates comprehensive deliberations and collaborative efforts to address the complex challenges in healthcare pricing.


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