Speaker miffed over poor implementation of KPME Act

Speaker miffed over poor implementation of KPME Act

Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar is upset with the state government over ineffective implementation of a law that seeks to regulate private hospitals.

As the health and family welfare minister in the previous government, Kumar spearheaded amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, which led to an ugly standoff between medical practitioners and the government. Private medical doctors had struck work for five days, which affected healthcare services throughout the state.

After hectic parleying, the amendment bill was passed in the November 2017 session of legislature held in Belagavi. A year later, Kumar is miffed that some key provisions of the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act have not been implemented till date.

Specifically, constitution of expert committees and fixation of cost of procedures that patients undergo under government-funded insurance schemes have not been done.

The inaction resulted in Kumar giving Health and Family Welfare officials a piece of his mind.

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.

When contacted, Jawaid Akhtar, principal secretary of Health and Family Welfare said: “We are in the process of constituting the expert committees. I’m unable to react immediately on the timeline, but we are at it.”

The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Bill was met with stiff resistance by the private sector. Finally, the government and private doctors arrived at a consensus and four changes were made in the Bill: dropping all imprisonment clauses except for running a private medical establishment without
registration, that the grievance redressal committee will not handle clinical complaints, that doctors can be represented by their lawyers in the grievance redressal committee and lastly, the government will fix cost for only those procedures patients undergo through a government-funded insurance scheme.

While the Bill was passed in the legislature in November 2017, it received the Governor’s assent in January 2018 and a gazette notification was issued in March 2018.

Implementation of the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act will have a bearing on the success of the government’s ambitious Arogya Karnataka universal health coverage scheme, which has been integrated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ayushman Bharat.