Bill to regulate private hospitals referred to Joint Select Committee

Bill to regulate private hospitals referred to Joint Select Committee

June 21, 2017

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2017 that seeks to empower the Government to fix rates for various procedures in private hospitals was yesterday referred to the Joint Select Committee of the State Legislature as many members wanted the Government to tread “cautiously” on the issue.

Interestingly, almost all MLAs who opposed the Bill were medical doctors by profession. They opposed the Bill in its present form and suggested to the Government to conduct wider consultations in this regard.

Opposition BJP and a few senior members from the ruling Congress expressed reservations over certain provisions of the Bill though they welcomed its “spirit and intentions.” The Joint Select Committee has been tasked to examine all provisions of the Bill within a month.

Participating in a discussion on the Bill in the Assembly, Dr. A.B. Maalakaraddy (Congress) said doctors were already working under immense pressure. Vested interests will make use of the Bill to harass them. It will become impossible for doctors to function if their concerns are not addressed, he warned.

“The Bill has created an atmosphere of fear. The Government should tread cautiously in this regard. We must do it without hurting the sentiments of the doctors…The Minister (Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar) should not get emotional. His intentions are good,” Maalakaraddy, who is a former Health Minister, stated.

Dr. Shivaraj Patil (JD-S) warned that doctors will not be able to function if the Bill is given effect in its present form.

Dr. C.N. Ashwath Narayan (BJP) suggested that the Government hold consultations with doctors and address their concerns. Otherwise, the Government will not be able to protect the interests of the poor patients.

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Besides, BJP MLA S. Suresh Kumar said that there are a lot of apprehensions about the Bill. Incidents of attacks on doctors have increased of late. Nobody doubts the Government’s intentions. But it should not result in unnecessary harassment of doctors, he added.

Health Minister Ramesh Kumar clarified that the Bill was trying to regulate only private medical establishments and not their professionals/doctors. “We are trying to rein in employers not employees,” he remarked. The Minister referred to instances of hospitals refusing to handover bodies of patients to their relatives before clearing dues.

Pointing out that the Government had set aside Rs. 1,022 crore for medical services under various schemes, he said nearly 80% of these funds were being given to private hospitals. “It is our duty to ensure that private hospitals do not overcharge,” he said. Offering to withdraw the provisions for imprisonment of those flouting the law, Kumar pointed out that the Penal provisions were more stringent in West Bengal.


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