Bill passed, but no end to trouble over KPME Act

Less than two weeks after the State legislature adopted the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendments) Bill, trouble is brewing over it again.

Members of the State unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA), who protested aggressively against the tabling of the Bill in its original form, have now decided to approach the High Court of Karnataka seeking the inclusion of government hospitals within the purview of the Bill, which is currently awaiting Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala’s assent.

The Justice Vikramjit Sen Committee, set up to recommend and draft amendments to the KPME Act, 2007, had suggested that government hospitals be brought under the ambit of the Act to make them accountable. However, the committee’s report was set aside and the Health Department drafted the amendments. “We have been demanding that the Vikramjit Sen Committee [recommendations] be implemented. Now, we will appeal to the Governor to defer the Bill and then approach the High Court… A unanimous decision to this effect was taken at the IMA meeting held in Bengaluru on Sunday,” said H.N. Ravindra, president of the State unit of IMA.

“The members, including those from speciality doctors’ associations, are of the opinion that whatever checks and balances have been applied to private doctors in the recent Bill… should be applicable to government doctors too,” he told The Hindu.

Sunday’s meeting was the first for the IMA since the Belagavi protests and the legislature session. Although the IMA did not raise the issue of inclusion of government hospitals during its negotiations with the Chief Minister, Health Minister and others before the Bill was tabled, “the members have now realised this is a crucial aspect and we need to seek legal recourse”, said Dr. Ravindra.

When it was pointed out that Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar had assured the doctors that another law would be introduced for government doctors and hospitals, he said: “We do not know whether that will happen. But do we need another law for government doctors? Why can’t they be included in this Bill itself?”

This has not gone down well with activists, who have been opposing the IMA’s demand for dropping stringent amendments from the Bill. “The inclusion of public hospitals under the Bill is not possible as the principal Act of 2007 is titled Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act. Including government hospitals will mean changing the very name of the Act,” said Akhila Vasan of Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali.

She said the public health system is distinct from private healthcare and the KPME Act was enacted to enable registration, monitoring and regulation of the latter. “Government hospitals are anyway under the control of the government,” she said.

As carried in Th

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