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Right to health bill: Private doctors stick to guns

Rajasthan government officials on Sunday held a meeting with a delegation of private hospital doctors on strike against the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill and assured them of a detailed discussion on their suggestions over the proposed law.

The protesting doctors, however, demanded the withdrawal of the bill which they claimed was “unconstitutional” and will increase bureaucratic interference in the functioning of private hospitals.

The meeting was held on the instructions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The bill, which was passed in the Rajasthan Assembly on March 21 by voice vote, gives every resident of the state the right to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment of requisite fee or charges” by any public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres.

It defines a “health care establishment” as the whole or any part of a public or private institution, facility, building or place operated to provide health care. If a patient does not pay the charges after emergency care, stabilisation and referral, the government will reimburse the health care provider.

“Chief secretary Usha Sharma and other officers were present in the meeting. During the meeting, Sharma said the bill has been introduced to further strengthen the rights of the people of the state to their health. The chief secretary also assured the delegation of a detailed discussion on their suggestions,” a release said.

However, the secretary of the Private Hospital and Nursing Home Society Dr Vijay Kapoor told reporters after the meeting that their demand for the withdrawal of the bill will continue.

“We told the officials that this bill is unconstitutional and only we will discuss the errors in it only after the bill is withdrawn,” he said, adding that a rally will be organised in Jaipur on Monday to protest against the bill.

“The officials asked the delegation to talk on every point of the bill… but the delegation said that any discussion will be possible only after it is withdrawn. For this, we want a written assurance. Until that happens, neither this movement will stop nor will there be further talks,” Dr Kapoor said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot again appealed to the doctors to withdraw their strike, saying it is not in the public interest.

“The chief minister is sad that despite the appeal, the doctors have not understood his point. He is reaching Jaipur and will hold another meeting with the officials over the matter,” an official source said. PTI

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