Private Covid-19 tests free only for poor- Supreme Court amends its order

Last week the Supreme Court amended its decision requiring private laboratories to provide free Covid-19 testing to everyone. On Monday, the two-judge bench comprising judges Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat ordered that private laboratories should test free only people who could not afford Rs 4,500 for the test.

 

by Niranjani Jesentha Kumari Prabagararaj

Updated: Apr 13, 2020 19:36 IST

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Supreme Court's decision

The court said that citizens qualifying under the Ayushman Bharat scheme should not have to pay for it in the first place. The judges have requested the Centre to advise other economically weaker sections groups that could be tested without charge.

"Government, May consider whether any other categories of weaker sections of society, such as workers belonging to low-income groups in the informal sectors, beneficiaries of the Direct Benefit Transfer, etc., other than those covered by Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aroogya Yojana, are also eligible for free testing and can issue appropriate guidelines in the above regard also within a period of one week said the court.

In either case, the free testing may not have to bear the financial burden on the private laboratories. This allowed the government to come up with guidelines that would reimburse private lab expenditure on free tests.

On April 8, on a petition filed by a lawyer Shashank Deo Sudhi, the judges had ordered free tests, stressing that people were forced to resort to private laboratories because government hospitals were packed to capacity.

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