Healing Equality”: Supreme Court Calls for Standardization of Medical Treatment Charges

In a landmark move, the Supreme Court of India has raised serious concerns about the glaring disparities in medical treatment charges between government and private healthcare facilities. Expressing disappointment over the lack of enforcement of the 14-year-old Clinical Establishment (Central Government) rules, the Court emphasized the urgent need for standardized rates for various medical treatments and procedures.

The 2012 rules, which mandated medical facilities to transparently display service charges in the local vernacular and English, have seen inadequate implementation. Despite repeated attempts to engage with state governments on this matter, the Court ruled that the central government must take decisive action to ensure affordable healthcare, considering it a fundamental right for citizens.

The Union health secretary has been directed to convene a meeting within a month to finalize and notify standard rates for medical treatments. The Court warned that failing prompt action, it may consider implementing the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)-prescribed standardized rates.

Tapan Singhel, Chairman of the GI-Council, expressed optimism about the Supreme Court’s move, highlighting the potential benefits for citizens’ fundamental right to receive quality healthcare. This development comes in the context of a public interest litigation (PIL) hearing by Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life, where the Court criticized the Centre for the lack of enforcement of the Clinical Establishment Rules, resulting in varied medical treatment costs.

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