BENGALURU: The turn of events around Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Amendment Bill 2017 — a diluted version of which is likely to be tabled on Monday — has intrigued public health researchers over the past few days like no other health issue has in the past. The bill that aims to regulate large corporate profiteering hospitals was misconstrued to be directed at doctors.
Capping prices of medical procedures, which may be dropped, is a clause that would benefit patients. Dr N Devadasan, founder, Institute of Public Health, wrote in a blog KPMEyake that this has been in force both in high and middle-income countries as that is the basis on which governments make budgets or reimburse providers. “In countries that have fixed rates for treatment, the growth of the medical industry continues to outpace general growth,” he wrote.
He told Express, “In countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Morocco, and Latin
American countries, either the government or insurance companies are purchasing healthcare from hospitals. So the prices are fixed. In Thailand, 90 per cent of healthcare is purchased by the government at fixed rates. Now, if somebody wants to get more benefits like a private room, they have to pay extra but the government reimburses a fixed price. Phil Health, an autonomous insurance body in Philippines which covers 60% of population, also works similarly. Asked if price regulation has had any impact on research or equipment in these counties, he said, “Absolutely not. This is a myth spread by private medical associations.”
Akhila Vasan, convener, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali, said, “It is not as though grievance redressal committees have no precedence. In several laws like Senior Citizens Act and Internal Complaints Committee of Sexual Harassment law, there’s no lawyer. It’s not just the doctors but patients don’t get lawyers. So doctors are not vulnerable here.”
Doctors say when there are six platforms for patients to air their grievances, why should there be another? Dr Devadasan said these bodies can only take action against doctors and not hospital managements. “Court punishes doctors for grave misdemeanour. It is the doctor that is arrested, rarely the manager of the facility,” he wrote.
LETTER TO THE CM
In an open letter to the Chief Minister, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali said if the grievance redressal committee in metropolitan areas is being replaced by the district KPME Registration Committee, then “it will burden the very same officials with nothing being resolved. It has the IMA and AYUSH association representatives but no citizens’ representative. Given the asymmetry in power, such a mechanism will be heavily stacked against patients.”