NMC Bill to come up in LS tomorrow

This is the second attempt in the last two decades by the central government to replace MCI with a new regulatory agency. Representative image

Karnataka was one of the states that opposed some of the key provisions of the National Medical Commission bill that is listed for "consideration and passing" in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

When the controversial bill, that seeks to replace the Medical Commission of India with a new agency, was reviewed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, seven states deposed before the panel voicing their concerns on lack of representation in the NMC.

Subsequently, the bill was modified to increase the number of representatives from three in the original draft to six in the amended one.

Still the numbers are far less than the existing system in which 27 doctors elected from the states and Union Territories found a place in the 103-member Medical Council of India.

"The NMC bill fails to give adequate representation to the states. Karnataka should have a permanent representation in the commission as the state houses a large number of medical colleges," Karnataka officials had informed the House panel.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

A section of the lawmakers are likely to resort to the same argument, when the bill comes up for "discussion and passage" in the Lok Sabha.

Lack of "federal identity" is one of the key issues also flagged by the Indian Medical Association in its persistent opposition to the NMC bill.

"State once represented will remain unrepresented for 10 years. At any point of time, only three states will be represented," said IMA president Ravi Wankhedkar.

The Standing Committee proposed a 29-member commission that will include 10 members from the states and Union Territories.

Moreover, there would be six ex-officio members, nine members elected by the doctors from amongst themselves and three people with special knowledge in addition to the chairman.

The government, however, didn't agree to the formula proposed by the House panel.

"The NMC will comprise of 25 members, of which at least 21 will be doctors. The nominees of states and UTs in the NMC have been increased from three to six," it stated in a press statement after the amended bill was approved by the Union Cabinet on March 28.

Other contentious issues include the plan to regulate the fees of 50% of the seats in private medical colleges, the concept of an exit exam at the end of the MBBS course and leaving the state government with little say in health matters though health is a state subject.

This is the second attempt in the last two decades by the central government to replace MCI with a new regulatory agency.

The previous attempt by the UPA government bit the dust as the legislation it brought out, was rejected by the Standing Committee itself.

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NMC Bill to come up in LS tomorrow

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