BENGALURU: Members of several non-government organisations and health activists have expressed disappointment over the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Bill tabled by the state government on Tuesday. They believe that the bill is watered down to placate private players. A note sent jointly by these organisations read, “These changes to the bill are proof of how the private hospital lobby was able to hold the government to ransom. We take strong objection to a closed door meeting between the private hospital lobby and the chief minister even as the bill was being tabled. This is undemocratic and has excluded a large section of those who are at the mercy of the same lobby who have privileged access to the chief minister.”
The associations have termed it a welcome move to introduce an enforcable patients rights carter and private medical establishments detailing its responsibilities. “A complaint can be filed with the District Registration and Grievance Redressal authority. This authority, entrusted with powers of a civil court will be a platform for patients to take their grievances.
Similarly, the rights of patients to receive emergency treatment without having to pay an advance amount and the right to have the body of the deceased released before making the full payment are two important aspects which this amendment has introduced,” the organisations said.
No price regulations
Experts believe that the present bill does not address this primary issue, and therefore, does not prevent exploitation of patients. “The government has abdicated its role as a regulator. Failure to regulate costs of care in private hospitals only demonstrates that neither the ruling party nor the opposition have the integrity required to take such steps.”
What activists say
The IMA’s deliberate misinformation campaign shifted focus from hospitals to doctors and raised non-existent issues such as jail term to create mob panic that prevented discussions of any genuine concerns. For instance, there was a section of doctors who wanted provisions protecting whistleblowers from within the hospitals. Similarly, provisions banning cuts and commissions, concerns of small clinic and hospital owners were drowned out in the deliberate cacophony of lies and distortions.
l The bill does not specify who the woman representative in the authority will be.
l Does not define what a ‘frivolous’ complaint is.
l Referring doctors to KMC will make the patient vulnerable to an ‘expert’-driven forum.