Karnataka doctors are up in arms against the state government. As per The Indian Express, the private doctors are opposing the Congress government’s decision to introduce a law to regulate the functioning of private hospitals. The furore is over the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which prescribes fixed prices for treatment and makes those doctors who charge excess fees, liable for stringent punishment. The private doctors fear that the state legislature will pass the bill this month.
According to IE, the contentious clauses in the bill causing concerns in the private medical community includes punishment— ranging from six months to three-year jail terms and fines of between Rs 25,000 and Rs 5 lakh — for violators of the fee. Another condition is that hospitals must hand over bodies to family members soon after a death, instead of holding on to them for payment of dues. The doctors also oppose the hike in the penalty for running a medical establishment without registration which will be Rs 10,000 to Rs 5 lakh along with up to three years of imprisonment.
Doctors in Karnataka have termed the proposed law as ‘draconian’. Private doctors have also demanded that the state should focus first on lifting the standards of government hospitals before trying to manage the private hospitals. As per IE, doctors point out that a commission headed by the former Karnataka chief justice Vikramjit Sen had stated that government hospitals should be brought on par with private hospitals before embarking on the fixing of prices for medical treatment.
However, the Congress government’s decision to regulate the law for private hospitals hasn’t gone too well with all its party members. Many of the Congress leaders are divided over the bill as they too run medical colleges and hospitals in the state. The BJP has also supported the private doctors in the issue. BJP members, who were part of the joint house committee reviewing the bill, had boycotted its sittings on the grounds that their views were not being accommodated, says IE report.