Health and Family Welfare Minister Shivanand Patil came under fire in the Assembly on Thursday, when his claim that a law to regulate private hospitals had been implemented impressed neither the Opposition BJP nor Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar.
It was in the November 2017 session in Belagavi that amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act were passed, after an ugly standoff between the government and medical practitioners.
BJP’s Krishnaraja legislator S A Ramdas said amendments to the KPME Act were yet to be implemented. “For instance, hospitals are required to display a rate list. Will the government cancel the registration of hospitals that haven’t put up the rate list,” he asked.
Three expert committees are to be constituted under the KPME Act: first - to recommend classification of private medical establishments, standards of infrastructure, staffing pattern and staff qualification; second - to recommend standard protocols for treatment, procedures and prescription audit; third - to recommend uniform package rates for healthcare assurance schemes.
Ramdas, a former minister, pointed out that these committees were yet to be constituted.
Patil said the government was committed to implement the Act. “We are in the process of forming the committees. There are 24,000 hospitals in the state and each one has its own establishment cost, which we will have to rationalise across the board,” he said.
Chikkanayakanahalli legislator J C Madhuswamy (BJP) said the “propriety of the House” was under question because the amendments had not been implemented.
"Why pass Bills here if they aren’t implemented? Are these expert committees above the House?”
At this point, Speaker Kumar - he spearheaded amendments as the health minister in the previous government - lamented that officers had misled Patil. “The common man and the chief minister have to treated equally. But the former is forced to go to a government hospital while we go to private hospitals, whose bills we submit to claim lakhs. The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms isn’t ready to change the rules,” Kumar said.
The Speaker held up further discussion till Patil received a “proper briefing” from officers on the KPME Act.