Health Minister of Rajasthan, Prasadi Lal Meena, tabled a ‘Right to Health Bill’ in the state assembly that grants individuals the right to receive free emergency medical care at all government and privately-run hospitals.
In response, private hospital doctors organized a large-scale protest, taking to the streets to demonstrate against the Bill. The assembly passed the Bill via a voice vote.
Why Rajasthan doctors are protesting?
The doctors protesting the ‘Right to Health Bill’ in Rajasthan have criticized it as being unconstitutional and increasing bureaucratic interference in the functioning of private hospitals.
Multispeciality hospitals and smaller healthcare facilities in Rajasthan have come to a standstill as doctors refuse treatment to patients and private hospitals are not admitting new patients.
This is in response to the ‘Right to Health Bill’, which grants individuals the right to receive free emergency medical care at all government and privately-run hospitals.
According to a report by news agency PTI, members of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Home Society and the United Private Clinics and Hospitals of Rajasthan went on strike on Saturday night after being called to action by the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.
The doctors who participated in the strike argued that the proposed bill would ultimately result in the elimination of private hospitals, strip doctors of their ability to earn a living, and deprive the public of 24/7 medical services. Dr. Kewal Krishan Dang of a private hospital was quoted by PTI as saying this.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) previously called for a national “black day” to protest the divisive bill, which has been met with opposition from doctors across the state. The Rajasthan chapter of the IMA has also joined the protests.
The purpose of the protests is to raise awareness about the need to remove the Act, with private doctors threatening to withdraw their hospitals from state-sponsored healthcare programs.
What is Right to Health Bill?
The Rajasthan Assembly passed the Right to Health (RTH) Bill on March 21, which guarantees free outpatient and inpatient services to all state residents. These services will be available at all public health facilities and select private facilities, subject to conditions outlined in forthcoming rules.
The free healthcare services will include consultation, drugs, diagnostics, emergency transport, procedures, and emergency care.
All residents will also be entitled to emergency treatment without prepayment of any fees or charges, and hospitals cannot delay treatment on grounds of police clearance in medico-legal cases.
If a patient does not pay requisite charges after receiving emergency care, stabilisation, and transfer, the healthcare provider may receive reimbursement from the state government.
In total, the bill extends 20 rights to Rajasthan citizens.
Why are private hospitals opposed bill?
- The doctors who participated in the strike expressed concerns that the proposed bill could eventually lead to the elimination of private hospitals.
- They argued that it would infringe on doctors’ ability to earn a livelihood and limit access to round-the-clock medical services for the public.
- Doctors feel that the government is shirking its responsibility onto private practitioners.
- Hospitals and doctors are apprehensive about the government’s lack of clarity regarding reimbursement for treating patients who cannot afford hospital care.
- The doctors believe that a lack of proper implementation of the Act could widen the mistrust between patients and doctors.
Due to the shutdown of private facilities, there has been a 40% increase in patient load at the government-run MBS Hospital in Kota. About 300 private hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes in Kota have remained closed, affecting outdoor patients, emergency services, and new admissions.
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