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IMA Karnataka Chapter busts myths related to KPME bill

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Bengaluru: The face-off between the government and private hospitals over the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007 has traumatized several people, patients in particular with doctors unitedly opposing what they call as the ‘draconian’ bill. Around 10 lives have been lost so far due to the strike.

Over 22000 doctors and more than 6000 hospitals and clinics across the state have decided to keep off their OPD services indefinitely from November 16 morning.

The media has latched on to the face-off between the striking doctors and the government, while the ailing public are caught in between. Several versions of the reasons as to why the doctors are opposing what many patients view as a transformative welfare measure executed by the Government on their behalf are floating around in the media. According to the IMA Karnataka Chapter, these reports are not in sync with the actual reasons as to why the doctors are opposing the bill tooth and nail. From patient’s point of view, it is imperative that they understand why the doctors are opposing the bill that was to be tabled in the ongoing Belagavi session to regulate all Private Medical Establishments in Karnataka as they are major stakeholders in the health care sector in the state. The doctors have their own valid reasons for opposing the bill, which they have set out in a rebuttal to these reports. We reproduce here below the text of that rebuttal so that our readers can judge the merits of the bill for themselves.

KPME FACTS AND MYTHS

1. Media report- KPME Act is for registration of private hospitals which doctors are against

Fact: Doctors already register their clinics, and renew it once every 5 years. This amendment makes it once every 3 years.

Why we oppose: At present, there is already a ‘LICENSE RAJ’, where we are forced to run from one office to another, often dealing with bribes and corruption to register our clinics. This amendment will only increase corruption and harassment of doctors.

2. Media report: This amendment helps patients get justice against doctors which is opposed by doctors

Fact: This amendment establishes a district redressal body, made of 6 members, headed by the Panchayat head, with only 1 member as a doctor, and others by nonprofessionals. A doctor has to represent himself in case of a complaint, without a lawyer.

Why we oppose:

A) It is not possible for a non medical professional to make judgement on a doctor’s decisions. This body will harass doctors and increase corruption.

B) If a doctor has to represent himself for any complaint, who will look after his patients?

C) There are already several bodies for patients to complain, including consumer court, civil court, medical body. Another body is unnecessary and only serves to increase fear in a doctor’s mind

3. Media report: This amendment is to control corporate hospitals, not small clinics.

Fact: the amendment applies to all private establishments

Why we oppose: Small clinics and nursing homes are run by 1 or 2 doctors, without any management staff. They form the backbone of healthcare in most rural areas. They will be worst hit by this amendment, and might be forced to shut down, which will be disastrous for the general public

4. Media report: The government is already providing Healthcare at affordable rates. The private sector needs to be regulated.

Fact: The government spending on healthcare is abysmally low. WHO advises spending 10% of GDP whereas in India it is 1 per cent. Karnataka has fewer dispensaries per 1000 population than any neighboring state.

Why we oppose: The government has failed in its responsibility to provide good public healthcare. Instead of improving their facilities they are seeking to curb private establishments. This will only lower private establishments to government level.

5. Media report: Private hospitals are looting patients and earning huge profits

Fact: Most private establishments do not break even for 5-10 years. After that their profits are in single digits. This is in large corporate hospitals. In smaller nursing homes, doctors aim to earn. Enough to pay their staff and give a good future for their children

Why we oppose: The government offers ZERO subsidies to private medical establishments. We buy land at commercial rates, pay commercial tax, GST, water all at commercial rates. Industries pay Rs 5 per unit for electricity. We pay Rs 8 per unit. When the government is not subsidizing us in any manner, what right do they have to set our prices.

Moreover there is a wide variety of services available for the same condition. One Company laser machine is available for Rs 2 lakh, another for Rs 45 lakh. How can both be charged the same? What is the incentive for any hospital to invest in new technology or improve service if the rate charged is the same no matter what. Why should a doctor spend money and go abroad to train, if he has to charge the same as someone doing an inferior procedure? This amounts to communism and cannot be sustained. It will lead to a collapse of the Healthcare industry and that is not an exaggeration.

At the end the protest is in everyone’s interest and not just doctors.

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