Clearly bowing to the pressure from the private doctors, the State government passed the controversial Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Bill amidst heated discussions. The Bill as expected has been modified to suit the doctors' demands mainly the imprisonment clause. Only the quacks and unregistered medical practioners will be punished with the jail clause. Besides, the bill empowers the government to punish even medical institutions and those who give medical advice and treatment without any licence up to three years of jail.
The government is mulling over establishing an independent Regulatory Commission to address the complaints of health care. Also, the government has formed an empanel and entered into an agreement with a few private hospitals to decide on the price charter. Besides, the bill also assures that the hosptial bills of patients from APL families will also be paid by the government.
Further modifications to the bill include
1. The government will have no authority to cancel the registration of erring private doctors
2. The Bill seeks to reconstitute the Registration and Grievance Redressal Authority in each district. The authority will have deputy commissioner as the chairman, district health officer as member secretary and district Ayush officer, Indian Medical Association's representative and a woman representative as members.
3. To ensure transparency, private hospitals mandatorily display the price charter in their hospitals
4. Without insisting on payment of dues, the hospitals have to hand over dead bodies of the deceased patients to their next kin
5. The bill proposes levying of penalty if the doctors or private medical establishments fail to adhere to the Patients' Charter and Private Medical Establishment's Charter
6. The Registration and Grievance Redressal Authority has been entrusted with powers to impose penalties of up to Rs 50,000. Besides, if the establishment does not comply with the law, the authority has the power to cancel the registration.
7. The Bill insists that private doctors and establishments should provide emergency treatment, when necessary, without demanding payment in advance from patients and their kin.