Supreme Court Criticizes Government Over Medical Treatment Price Discrepancies: Healthcare Stocks React with Declines

Hospital stocks are in the spotlight with all experiencing declines ranging from 3% to 9%. Companies such as Max Healthcare, Fortis Healthcare, Apollo Hospital, Medanta,, and Jupiter Life Line Hospitals are among those affected.

The Supreme Court of India has taken a stern stance on the considerable price variations in medical treatments between government and private healthcare establishments. In a recent hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) brought forth by the Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life, the court criticized the central government for its failure to enforce the Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Rules, which were instituted 14 years ago. These rules were designed to establish a standardized fee structure for various medical procedures, with rates reflecting regional living standards.

The PIL urged the government, particularly under Rule 9 of the Clinical Establishment Rules, 2012, to set up a regulated fee system for patients. This rule mandates healthcare facilities to transparently display service charges in local languages and English, ensuring that the prices fall within the range specified by the central government in consultation with state governments.

Despite the central government’s claims of reaching out to state governments for cooperation, the Supreme Court firmly asserted that providing affordable healthcare is a fundamental right that cannot be ignored. Consequently, the court directed the Union health secretary to promptly convene a meeting with health secretaries from all states within a month. The objective is to ensure the expeditious notification of standardized rates. The court issued a warning that if the central government fails to find a resolution, they would consider the petitioner’s plea to implement standardized rates prescribed by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

This development underscores the judiciary’s commitment to addressing issues of healthcare affordability in India. The directive to convene a meeting reflects the court’s proactive approach in holding the government accountable for enforcing regulations that would lead to consistent and reasonable pricing across medical facilities, ultimately ensuring accessible healthcare for all citizens.

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