New Delhi, June 5: Private hospitals were asked by the Supreme Court on Friday if they can treat coronavirus patients at the much lesser fee, as charged under the government’s affordable insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat.

The ‘Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’ is aimed at providing health cover to poor and vulnerable persons in the country.

The top court clarified that it is not asking private hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients for free, but is only asking those who have been given land at concessional rates by the government to treat certain number of such infected patients for free, The Hindustan Times reported.

“I just want to know if hospitals are ready to charge at Ayushman rates?,” CJI SA Bobde observed during the hearing which was conducted through video-conferencing.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the apex court that the government is doing its best and people who cannot afford treatment are covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

The country has been reporting a high number of coronavirus cases in the last few days. There were 9,851 new Covid-19 cases and 273 deaths in the last 24 hours across the country, the Union health ministry data showed today.

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