Karnataka government moves to fix rates at private hospitals, doctors go on strike

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The Karnataka unit of the Indian Medical Association has called for a statewide bandh of doctors on Friday. Hundreds of doctors will take out a rally protesting the government's new amendment bill that seeks to fix rates of treatments at private hospitals.

The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was tabled in the assembly by health minister Ramesh Kumar. The bill seeks to regulate only private hospitals and keeps government facilities out of its purview. While the government has called it a move to save innocent poor patients from being victimised by private hospitals, doctors have called it unfair.

Karnataka government moves to fix rates at private hospitals, doctors go on strike

Several doctors association have extended support to the strike. Doctors are expected to take out a rally to Freedom Park in Bengaluru. Protestors will submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister and the health minister asking for the bill to be withdrawn. The bill if implemented will empower the government to regulate private medical services by fixing the prices for various services. The bill also seeks to prescribe punishment, including imprisonment, for doctors in case of irregularities in pricing-related matters.

Karnataka government moves to fix rates at private hospitals, doctors go on strike

Private practitioners allege that the move is menacing and is aimed at troubling private health care providers. "Instead of attempting to control or regulate the private hospitals, the government should concentrate on improving state-run hospitals. Patients seek private hospitals for their quality and service and that comes at a price. The government can't burden private hospitals that have already tied up with them for various insurance schemes etc," said Dr Rajashekar S Bellary, president, IMA, Karnataka branch.

Protesting doctors maintained that while the outpatient department will remain closed in most private hospitals, emergency services and in-patients will be attended to. No trouble will be caused to patients in need of immediate medical help, doctors maintained.

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