Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal (Photo: Al Ahram)
Egyptian parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal warned that the Egyptian state might use the country’s emergency law to prevent private hospitals from overcharging coronavirus patients.
"The Egyptian state can use the powers granted by the recent amendments of the emergency law to compel private hospitals to stop overcharging patients in such critical times," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "the bills issued by private hospitals in this respect are horrible."
"As has happened in many countries, the president of the republic can use the new powers in the emergency law to entrust the government with administering these private hospitals and protect citizens from exorbitant bills," said Abdel-Aal.
Addressing a plenary session on Monday, Abdel-Aal said "I hope that owners of private hospitals will show a high sense of belonging to this country and also demonstrate enough understanding of the current circumstances as the coronavirus crisis necessitates that the state fully mobilise its resources to fight this pandemic."
"I know that this kind of hospital has to pay high salaries to doctors and cover the high costs of medical supplies, drugs, and sterilisation material, but this can never be a reason for overcharging patients," said Abdel-Aal.
Abdel-Aal's words came in response to an urgent statement delivered by MP Magdi Morshed, deputy head of the health affairs committee. Morshed said private hospitals have been overcharging hefty amounts of money from the coronavirus patients and that the state should intervene.
Morshed said that although the government announced one week ago that it would impose price caps on private hospitals, the decision in this respect is still "ink on paper."
"The government should intervene again to stop this bad phenomenon and protect citizens from the greed of these private hospitals," said Morshed, asking that the government use item 2 of Article 21 of the amended emergency law to allow the president use his powers to compel private hospitals to focus on treating the coronavirus patients without overcharging them.