Private clinics shut for day to protest Karnataka law

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) Around 15,000 private clinics across Karnataka remained shut on Friday as hundreds of doctors rallied in the state capital to demand withdrawal of a proposed amendment to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, 2007.

“We took out a rally from Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station to Freedom Park at the city centre. The rally was peaceful,” Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association President-elect Dr C. Jayanna told reporters here.

A bill was tabled in the Assembly on June 13 to propose change in the KPME Act to empower the state government to fix fees/charges to be levied by private hospitals.

“How can the state government fix rates/charges for treatment at private hospitals? The government should involve all stakeholders before amending the Act,” Indian Medical Association Secretary Dr Santosh Neta said.

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As per the proposed amendment, collecting in excess of the fees/charges fixed by the Karnataka government will attract a maximum penalty of Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment not less than six months.

The bill tabled by Health and Family Welfare Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar says that all private medical establishments will have to follow fixed rates/charges, including package rates for investigation, bed charges, operation theatre procedure, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation, and others tests.

No additional charges over and above those fixed by the state government will be levied unless and until explained to and consented to by the patient concerned.

“Doctors from each of the 30 districts attended the rally. Private hospitals were open but private clinics were closed as doctors came to Bengaluru for the rally,” Jayanna said.

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