PIL TO SPEED UP CLINICAL LEGISLATION
A Mumbai-based lawyer has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court (HC), urging for a provision to be added to the draft Maharashtra Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill, 2014, so that there is transparency and uniformity in the rates charged by different hospitals. The lawyer also sought for the bill to be finalised into an Act at the earliest in order to benefit the society at large. The draft had been submitted in December 2014 by an expert committee, but has not been tabled in the Assembly for discussion yet.
The PIL, filed by advocate Jyoti Tiwari last Thursday (August 10), states that the draft bill has lacunae including the absence of regulation of rates charged by different hospitals and clinics. The petition states that private hospitals within the same area charge variable amounts for the same treatment. “This PIL relates to the Act that was enacted and adopted by the central government in 2010. The same Act has been adopted by many states in the country, but has been pending in Maharashtra for long. Even an expert committee was appointed by the state government to make the draft of the Act. But, it still has not been tabled in the legislature,” rued Tiwari.
However, some of the regulations in the PIL have been opposed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Dr Prakash Marathe, president of IMA’s Pune chapter, said, “After the Bombay Nursing Homes Registration Act, the Centre has now passed the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act on a national level. West Bengal has implemented the Act in a shoddy manner, including penalties like imprisonment for minor mistakes by the medical community. The Karnataka government is following the same Act blindly, which is why it was opposed by the IMA. The Act will be welcomed by us if there are no stringent actions against the doctors, like heavy penalty, imprisonment and so on.”
Dr Ananth Phadke, health activist and one of the members of the expert committee which drafted the bill for Maharashtra, shared, “We had raised our concerns over the draft as there were no rate regulations. But it was voted out by a majority of the expert members. We had asked the rates to be regulated for the indoor patients and exempted for the outdoor patients. The expenses of the outdoor patient don’t matter, but the indoor patient might incur huge expenses by way of bills. We had even asked them to exempt the rates for patients who are admitted to the deluxe and super deluxe rooms as they can afford the costs. It’s the rates of patients admitted in general wards that should be regulated, but they didn’t include that in the draft.”
█ The Centre has now passed the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act on a national level. The Act will be welcomed by us if there are no stringent actions against doctors, like heavy penalty, imprisonment and so on
— Dr Prakash Marathe, President, IMA Pune chapter