Barely a fortnight after Modi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee held a televised meeting with heads of private hospitals in Kolkata where she lashed out at them for overcharging patients and shoddy service, the two most common complaints. On March 3, the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and transparency) Bill, 2017 was passed unanimously in the assembly.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and local doctors associations were bitterly opposed to the new law. They petitioned the governor and high court to repeal the act. Neither was in a mood to oblige. The governor gave his assent and the bill became law on March 17. The high court dismissed the petiti on on August 21.
This is a recurring pattern across states – repeated and determined efforts by governments to enact a law to regulate the private sector in the face of stiff opposition from doctors’ associations.
While doctors’ strikes and demonstrations forced governments to back off on previous occasions, there is now little public sympathy for doctors and private hospitals. Sensing this, governments are also unwilling to bend to the pressure tactics of corporate hospitals and doctors’ associations.
The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2017 to regulate the private sector was tabled in the assembly in June. The IMA and local hospital associations went to court against the bill. They launched an indefinite strike, but had to call it off after the high court asked them to hold talks with the government.
In Mumbai, a hospital hoarding saying “No commission, only honest opinion” kicked off a row about doctors taking commissions from hospitals and diagnostic labs for referring patients. Responding to the outrage, in September, the state government released the draft Prevention of Cut Practice in Health Care Services Bill, 2017, the first in India to formally recognise the menace of cut practice. The bill proposes up to five years of imprisonment for demanding or accepting commissions. The 40,000-member-strong IMA in Maharashtra protested vehemently, but the government is moving ahead.
In Kerala, with the highest per capita expenditure on health in the country, the drafting of the Kerala Clinical Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Bill 2017 started last year. Several cases of negligence or callousness in private hospitals leading to deaths this year fuelled public anger. Hospitals refusing to reduce their treatment expenses despite stent prices falling added to it. The government in August introduced a bill to regulate all hospitals and diagnostic centres.
Source : timesofindia