More Evidence on Why the 25% Vaccine Quota for Private Hospitals Should Be Ended -R Ramakumar
The Union government may do well to appreciate that getting vaccinated and seeking private health care are two different issues and should not be conflated.
When the Union government partially revised its vaccine allocation strategy on June 7, 2021, from a 50:25:25 ratio to a 75:25 ratio, it had offered a set of justifications to the Supreme Court.
In its second affidavit submitted to the apex court on June 26, the Union government stated:
“…in any public health program – be it vaccination or otherwise, involvement of private hospitals is always found desirable. It is respectfully submitted that as per the statistics available, approximately, 55 per cent of the population of the country seeks and gets medical care/health services from private hospitals and 45 per cent gets health care services from government hospitals… more percentage of population takes advantage of private hospitals in case of ‘out-patient care’…”
“…this was the reason of involving private hospitals in the process from the beginning of the vaccination programme so as to give wider reach to vaccination and lessen the stress on government facilities considering the very magnitude of the task ahead viz., vaccinating second largest country in the world…”
“…various experts expressed concerns through articles, interviews and other mediums expressing to continue involving private hospitals in the drive while permitting the manufacturers to decide their charges to be supplied to private hospitals at arm’s length basis and based on mutual agreement. The opinion expressed by experts was based upon the rationale and logic that manufacturers would not have any incentive to augment their manufacturing potential and manufacture more vaccine doses, unless they have an incentive of selling some defined portion of their manufactured vaccines at the rates decided by them, so that they can sell vaccines to the Central Government after cross subsidization…”
Thus, there were three justifications provided to keep the 25% quota for private hospitals intact.
First, more Indians seek medical care from private hospitals than public hospitals.
Secondly, keeping a proportion of vaccine doses aside for private hospitals would reduce the burden on public health facilities.
Thirdly, higher prices at which doses are sold to private hospitals would incentivise the vaccine producers to produce and supply more as well as help them to cross-subsidise sale at regulated prices to the government.
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TheWire.in, 26 July, 2021, https://thewire.in/health/vaccine-private-hospitals-quota