While private doctors, who are up in arms against the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, are adamant that the contentious four provisions in the Bill be dropped, or the Vikramjit Sen committee report be adopted in toto, there are indications that the government may tone down some of the provisions.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who called the protesting doctors for talks on Monday, assured them in the hour-long meeting that the government did not intend to harass the medical fraternity. Appealing to them to withdraw their strike, he said: “We will initiate measures to address your genuine grievances. We will call you again for a discussion before the Bill is tabled. We do not want to harass the doctors but only want to protect the interests of the poor.”
H.N. Ravindra, IMA State unit president, who said the Chief Minister’s response was “positive and satisfactory,” said the doctors would go ahead with their relay hunger strike as planned. “We want the government to either adopt the report of the Vikramjit Sen committee (that was initially set up to draft amendments to the KPME Act, 2007) or drop the draconian provisions — capping of prices for various procedures, imprisonment of erring doctors, setting up of grievance redressal cells — and bring government hospitals within the ambit of the Bill,” he said.
“While the Chief Minister gave us a patient hearing and assured us that the three demands — capping of prices, jail term and inclusion of government hospitals — will be looked into, he seemed to be in favour of setting up the grievance redressal cells. We want all our demands to be considered,” Dr. Ravindra asserted.
The meeting was attended by Ministers M.B. Patil, H.K. Patil, T.B. Jayachandra and senior officials.
“We requested him to limit the capping of prices only to government health insurance schemes as 76% of patients under the government schemes are being attended by private hospitals and nursing homes. We are hopeful of a positive response,” he said.
A doctor, who is also a part of IMA delegation, told The Hindu that fixation of prices in hospitals and nursing homes would lead to closing down of several nursing homes in tier-II two and tier-III cities and towns.