The Supreme Court today took note of the differences in COVID-19 testing charges in various states and asked the centre to fix an upper limit for these tests.
“There should be uniformity in COVID-19 test fee. In some states it is Rs 2,200 and in some its Rs 4,500,” the court told the government.
The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah indicated, however, that the court will not venture into the fixation of the charges which will be taken care of by the centre.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the government, requested the court to let the states decide the cap on these tests. “Better to leave to states, some may be discussing even lower rates,” he said.
The bench, however, turned down his request and said:”You fix upper limit. States will do rest”.
On May 25, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the government’s nodal body in this health crisis, had lifted the price cap of Rs 4,500 per test after the prices of testing kits had dropped. The apex medical research body had also asked state and UT administrations to “fix up mutually agreeable prices” to test samples with private labs.
While many states including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Delhi have brought down the rates for COVID-19 test following the letter, other states are yet to revise the price cap.
Amid rise in the number of coronavirus infections in Delhi, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday revised the price cap on testing for COVID-19 to Rs 2,400. The new price cap for the tests — which till now was Rs 4,500 — was announced following directives by Home Minister Amit Shah to “provide relief to the common man”.
In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has fixed the price of COVID-19 testing by the RT-PCR method not more than Rs 2,500.
Maharashtra — the worst hit state with 1,20,504 cases — has also capped the price for the COVID-19 tests by private laboratories at Rs 2,200 from the existing maximum price of Rs 4,500.
The RTPCR test for COVID-19 has been capped at Rs 2,200 in Telangana. Tests will only be conducted on those with symptoms of influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), state Health Minister Eatala Rajender said.