Belagavi: A modified amendment Bill to regulate the functioning of private hospitals across Karnataka was introduced in the state legislative assembly here on Tuesday.
Tabling the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill 2017 to regulate the healthcare system in the state, Health and Family Welfare Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar told the lawmakers that its various provisions would be discussed and debated before its passage.
“Minor change have been made in the amendment Bill after discussions with the associations of private doctors and private hospitals in the state last week,” said Kumar.
Thousands of private doctors went on a five-day strike last week in protest against penal provisions in the Bill and led to closure of out-patient departments in hundreds of private hospitals across the state, affecting healthcare severely.
The doctors, however, called off their strike on Friday on a directive from the Karnataka High Court and after the state government agreed to modify some of the provisions of the Bill as per their demands.
“The Bill will be sent to state Governor Vajubjai R. Vala for notification after both the legislative Houses (Assembly and Council) pass it,” a senior official told IANS.
The state government has agreed not to form the Grievances Redressal Committees at the district level as demanded by the private doctors. Aggrieved patients can approach the District Health Officer (DHO) or the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) under the existing provisions of the KPME Act.
“Penal provisions like imprisonment of doctors for negligence have been omitted from the Bill,” added the official.
The Bill has included a provision on displaying the cost of treatment, including surgeries, operations and diagnostic tests in the front office of all private hospitals. Patients can question the hospitals if they are charged more than the specified cost and complaint to the DHO or the KMC.
The state government also agreed to fix the treatment cost for BPL (Below Poverty Line) patients referred to private hospitals under its health scheme or covered under its health insurance.
In the case of Above Poverty Line (APL) patients, the state government will bear only 30 per cent of the cost of the treatment in private hospitals and the remaining cost has to be borne by them. There would be no price capping on other or private patients.
Of the registered 1.25 lakh doctors in the state, about 10,000 of them are employed in the state-run hospitals, while over a lakh work in about 40,000 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics across the state.
The 10-day winter session of the state legislature is being held since November 13 here, about 500km from Bengaluru, to address the issues of the state’s northwest region.