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Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition parties on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Odisha government over the exorbitant and inconsistent billing by private COVID hospitals in treating patients. While replying to a question by MLA Soumya Patnaik in the State Assembly, Health Minister Naba Das tabled details of the COVID facilities in Odisha run with private partner till January.

As per the Minister's reply, Rs 3,89,59,66,466 has been spent as the expenditure towards COVID management in 31 private hospitals along with the Jharsuguda district headquarters hospital. In SUM Hospital, the total expenditure was Rs 58,59,72,250 (the highest) for the treatment of 698 patients- which means the per head expenditure was Rs 8.39 lakh (Rs 8,39,500).

The total expenditure for the treatment of 2295 COVID patients in KIMS Hospital was pegged at Rs 44,15,52,500- Rs 1.92 lakh (Rs 1,92,397) per patient on average. For the treatment of 436 patients, the total expenditure at Shanti Memorial Hospital in Rourkela was Rs 30,03,48,289, taking the per head expenses to over Rs 6.88 lakh.

However, the per head expenditure was just Rs 10,484 in Keonjhar Tata Hospital where the expenses were shown as Rs 65,00,000 for treatment of 620 COVID patients. Similarly, the per head expenditure at Bhadrak Salandi Hospital was just Rs 4,330- Rs 1,73,78,026 for treatment of 4330 patients.

This massive inconsistency in billing for the treatment of disease by different hospitals has not gone down well with the BJP and Congress. "Rs 94 lakh bamboo rent, Rs 1.5 lakh cost of treatment per COVID patient... No patient was given medicine costing more than Rs 5. A massive corruption has taken place during the COVID times and we have raised the issue in the State Assembly," said Leader of Opposition, Pradipta Naik.

Congress MLA Sura Routray said that the government should immediately make details of per head treatment cost of patients in the various private hospitals and the amount charged by those centres.

Responding to the allegations, the ruling-BJD MLA Amar Satpathy said that an audit of the same will be done soon. "The opposition parties are raising the issue but the private hospitals helped during an emergency time and they should be thanked for their support," he added.

However, raising doubts over the inconsistent billing, RTI activists said that there shouldn't have any such inconsistency when the government had already fixed food and treatment costs of COVID patients at ICU and non-ICU hospitals.

"Most of the hospitals have links with either a bureaucrat or a minister or leader of the ruling party. There has been a massive irregularity in the COVID treatment cost," alleged RTI activist, Pradeep Pradhan while demanding an investigation into the same.

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