BENGALURU: Despite the government announcing on Thursday that the cabinet has only given an in-principle approval to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Bill and that it is left to the CM to review the Bill, the state chapter of the Indian Medical Association has decided to go ahead with the ‘Belagavi Chalo’ protest.
Veeranna B, secretary, Indian Medical Association, told Express, “There is no official communication from the government to us that they will review the Bill. On Monday morning, around 9 am, around 20,000 doctors will assemble in front of Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi.”
Dr Ajai Kumar, chairman, Healthcare Global, and president, Association of Healthcare Providers of India, said, “There are four major parts of the Bill we want the CM to have a look at. First, there should be no grievance redressal committee at the district level. Second, the patient’s charter should be mere guidelines and not a law. Third, we cannot have the government fix charges for various procedures and treatments. Fourth, we do not want doctors to be treated like criminals and jailed without any motive.”
Kumar explained that though the Bill insists on not holding a patient’s body to ransom until bills are settled, hospitals have no option. “We know it is inhuman to ask the grieving to pay up, what else do we do? If they have bills worth lakhs, will they come back and pay once they leave? How can a hospital write it off?”
“Private hospitals will also turn into government hospitals if there is a cap on prices for medical procedures. There will be no place for new technology,” he said. Dr Ajai Kumar, however, did not confirm if he will be participating in the ‘Belagavi Chalo’ protest. Dr Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospital, was more optimistic. “Now that the CM has agreed to review the provisions of the Bill I think we should wait and see. From the Bengaluru Manipal group, around eight to ten doctors are going to Belagavi. I will not be present though.” He also confirmed that neither he nor Dr Devi Shetty, founder, Narayana Health, are going on a hunger strike as claimed in a few instant messaging groups.