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KPMEA Bill: Diluted one not good

The state government, particularly the Health Minister Ramesh kumar, in a move to reform the health sector in the case of private hospitals, wanted to bring in a bill viz  Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendments) Bill 2017, (KPMEA )  for some control over the services of private hospitals who have been charging exorbitantly for any treatment. The government wanted to bring in transparency so that the public could keep themselves ready for any eventuality like the hefty bills, when and where the suitable services available for the diseases and avoid wrong treatment and also to fix accountability for any wrong treatment and the penalty therefore so that such instances do not recur.

After observing various cases of ill treatment, harassment and negligence by the doctors for the innocent patients who suffer for which the private hospitals wash off their hands as not accountable etc, and particularly the undue delay  at the time of delivery of dead body of  patients on failure of treatment/treatment not responding, need some streamlining of procedure, 2. The doctors once considered as Vaidyo Narayana and with required qualification and experience, public come to them with confidence that their welfare would be taken care of by them. Similarly, many doctors take the profession as their responsibility and extend their whole hearted service with equal confidence.

I remember in Chickmagalur, a doctor famous as Mysore doctor used to visit villagers doors by a bicycle even at late night hours and treat them and their charges were also  minimum. Even now, we have a live example of a doctor in Mandya who is extending similar service. That means the doctors had a humanistic approach to the society and the public considered them as more than a live God.

But after the establishing of corporate hospitals and super-speciality hospitals, having spent on the infrastructure and salaries of doctors and other health staff, the private hospitals have turned to commercializing the profession thereby fixing targets to the doctors, increasing the service charges etc, which the middle and poorer classes could not afford to. Equally the services at the Govt. hospitals have come down with lack of infrastructure therby forcing the poor  patients to go  to the private hospital and this is the main reason for the tussle and the need for bringing in the  legislation in the form of KPMEA.

The Health minister, initially with all enthusiasm introduced the bill to bring in some reformation by asking the private hospital administrations to i) display their charges of treatment so that the public will not be harassed later for exorbitant bills ii) fixing the accountability for public complaints about the negligence in treatment and punishing the erring doctors by a jail term ordered by a court wherein the doctors themselves are to be present etc., The minister was so sure that he was  even prepared to resign if the bill was not passed in the Assembly.

But what really happened and disappointed the public is that the government is not serious about the welfare of the public but has fallen prey to the lobby of the IMA (keeping elections in mind) and after several discussions, in which the Chief Minister intervened and scrapped the penal clause that sought jail term ranging from six months to three years for those violating the proposed legislation.

Any complaint of negligence on the part of the doctors from the patient side would only be looked into by a Committee headed by DC and a senior doctor from the district hospital and the officials from the health depart, and the condition of jail term has been shelved. It was disappointing to see the Chief Minister himself having a closed door discussion with the IMA doctors and with the elections nearing in  mind, has at last  diluted the proposed bill by a revised bill  by which the government has chosen to impose penalties ranging from 25000 to 1 lakh on erring doctors  and private hospital management.

The bill also seeks to punish those who make frivolous and false allegations against doctors with fine upto 10000/-,the rates charged to be displayed in the hospital website without any control over the charges  by the government.

It is now clear that the government is not interested in the problems of the poorer public in general  but is very keen to satisfy the doctors and hospital authorities who naturally form hand in glove with the party in power to get maximum benefits, leaving the public in the lurch with no hopes to improve their welfare conditions, which is quite unfortunate.

What happened to the enthusiasm of Ramesh kumar. He has not resigned as said earlier but only reconciled to the circumstances though he is not feeling guilty to the public expectations. That is the peril of democracy.                                                 –  K. V. Ramanath

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