Jaipur: Amid massive protest by the doctors in Rajasthan against the Right to Health (RTH) Bill, the state health minister Parsadi Lal Meena on Monday (March 27) said that the government would not take back the bill at any cost.
If there’s any problem with the bill, then we are ready to hold a discussion but the bill won’t be taken back. At any cost, we will not take back the bill, Meena said while talking to ANI.
He further said that the protesting doctors are taking “undue advantage”. He further said,
After a lot of discussions, the Right to Health bill was brought by our government. People of the state are being benefitted from it. We held discussions and abided by all demands of protesting doctors. CM has appealed to them to come back to work. They are taking undue advantage.
The state minister also said that the bill was also sent to a select committee before it was passed. He added,
If required we will recruit more doctors if protests continue, we will do whatever is required.
Parsadi Lal Meena’s reaction came amid the strike of private doctors and hospitals regarding the Right to Health Bill. Significantly, private hospitals and doctors in Rajasthan have been protesting against the Right to Health (RTH) bill through a work boycott urging the state government not to implement it. Rajasthan, last week passed the Right to Health Bill, which gives every resident of the state the right to avail free Out Patient Department (OPD) services and In Patient Department (IPD) services at all public health facilities, becoming the first state to do so.
Also, similar healthcare services will be provided free of cost at select private facilities. According to the Bill, free healthcare services, including consultation, drugs, diagnostics, emergency transport, procedure and emergency care, will be provided at all public health institutions and select private facilities subject to conditions specified in the rules, which will be formulated now.
Also, all residents will be entitled to emergency treatment and care for accidental emergencies without prepayment of any fee or charges.
In a case of medico-legal nature, the bill says no public or private hospital can delay treatment merely on the grounds of receiving police clearance.
The bill gives a right to the resident of the state to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment of requisite fee or charges” by any public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres.
The Bill was passed amid protests by the opposition BJP, which wanted to bring in certain changes to the provisions, as well as an agitation by a section of doctors.
Earlier, the private doctors protesting against the Rajasthan Right to Heath Bill took out a massive rally in Jaipur in a show of strength and to press their demand for its withdrawal, and threatened that their hospitals will not be part of any state healthcare scheme in the future.
Thousands of doctors, their family members and people associated with the medical profession, including medical store owners, took part in the rally which started from the resident doctors hostel ground of the SMS Hospital and passed through several parts of the city.
Private hospitals and nursing homes in Rajasthan have been shut for several days due to a strike of private doctors, leading to a rush of patients in government hospitals. Medical services in government hospitals were also affected as doctors across the state boycotted work for two hours in solidarity with the protesting private doctors.
The protesting doctors say that the bill, which was passed by the Assembly last week, will increase bureaucratic interference in their functioning and insisted on its withdrawal.
Dr Vijay Kapoor, the secretary of an association of private hospitals and nursing homes, said a decision was taken unanimously in a meeting after the rally on Monday that all the private hospitals of the state will not work in any scheme of the state government in the future.
The decision was taken to mount pressure on the state government to withdraw the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill, which stipulates that every resident of the state will have the right to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment” at any “public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres”.
The state government currently runs two schemes — the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme for the general public and the Rajasthan Government Health Scheme for state employees and pensioners — under which reimbursements against treatment in private hospitals are made by it according to rules and entitlement.
Chief Secretary Usha Sharma and senior state officials held a meeting with a delegation of the agitating private hospital operators on Sunday and assured them to hold a discussion on their suggestions regarding the bill.
However, the doctors were adamant and said any discussion would be possible only after the bill was withdrawn.
The bill was passed following the recommendations by a select committee.
Before the bill was amended following recommendations by a select committee, the draft mentioned “any health care provider, establishment or facility, including private provider, establishment or facility, public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres, qualified”.
According to the amended bill that was passed, “designated health care centres” mean health care centres as prescribed in the rules, which are yet to be framed.
Health Minister Parsadi Lal has asserted that the bill will not be withdrawn because all the suggestions given by the doctors have been incorporated in the bill and dubbed their demand unjustified.
The doctors are agitating and in such a situation, if punitive action is taken against the resident doctors or government doctors involved in the strike, then the resentment will increase further, Dr. Vijay Kapoor said.
On Sunday, the state government officials held a meeting with a delegation of private hospital doctors on strike against the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill and assured them of a detailed discussion on their suggestions over the proposed law.
The protesting doctors, however, demanded the withdrawal of the bill which they claimed was “unconstitutional” and will increase bureaucratic interference in the functioning of private hospitals.
The meeting was held on the instructions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
The bill, which was passed in the Rajasthan Assembly on March 21 by voice vote, gives every resident of the state the right to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment of requisite fee or charges” by any public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres.
It defines a “health care establishment” as the whole or any part of a public or private institution, facility, building or place operated to provide health care. If a patient does not pay the charges after emergency care, stabilisation and referral, the government will reimburse the health care provider. The release said,
Chief secretary Usha Sharma and other officers were present in the meeting. During the meeting, Sharma said the bill has been introduced to further strengthen the rights of the people of the state to their health. The chief secretary also assured the delegation of a detailed discussion on their suggestions.
However, the secretary of the Private Hospital and Nursing Home Society Dr Vijay Kapoor told reporters after the meeting that their demand for the withdrawal of the bill will continue. Dr. Kapoor said,
We told the officials that this bill is unconstitutional and only we will discuss the errors in it only after the bill is withdrawn. The officials asked the delegation to talk on every point of the bill… but the delegation said that any discussion will be possible only after it is withdrawn. For this, we want a written assurance. Until that happens, neither this movement will stop nor will there be further talks.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot again appealed to the doctors to withdraw their strike, saying it is not in the public interest.
The chief minister is sad that despite the appeal, the doctors have not understood his point. He is reaching Jaipur and will hold another meeting with the officials over the matter, an official source said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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