Why Rajasthan's doctors are protesting against Right to Health Bill
The health services in Rajasthan were hit on Wednesday as over 15,000 government doctors and medical college faculty members went on a daylong strike to support the agitation by private doctors against the Right to Health Bill. However, intensive care units (ICU), and emergency and maternity care wards in hospitals remained functional. The government has ordered action against those boycotting work.
Why does this story matter?
Rajasthan on Tuesday became the first state to pass the Right to Health Bill, granting every citizen the right to free health care at all public and private facilities in the state in case they are unable to bear the treatment cost. The doctors have timed the agitation to build pressure on the government, which is scheduled to face elections later this year.
Doctors fear Bill will increase bureaucratic interference in private hospitals
The agitating doctors claim that their opinions were not taken into consideration while formulating the Bill, adding that the Bill is ill-prepared and neglects the practical realities of providing healthcare services. They allege that the Bill will increase bureaucratic interference in the functioning of private hospitals and stated that any discussion on the matter will be held only after the Bill's withdrawal.
Doctors to be penalized for violating provision of free healthcare
Moreover, the Bill states that those violating the provisions of free emergency healthcare will be fined up to Rs. 10,000 in the first instance and up to Rs. 25,000 subsequently. The doctors argue that the provision violates the Minimum Wages Act, under which a private worker cannot be forced to work without pay. Notably, the government is liable to reimburse the healthcare provider.
Procedure of reimbursement not specified: Doctors
The doctors, however, claim that the Bill doesn't define "emergency," for which they are liable to provide healthcare. It also doesn't state how and when the hospitals will be reimbursed. They have been protesting the Bill for 11 days with support from the opposition parties.
Bill introduced after taking suggestions from doctors: Health minister
In contrast to the doctors' claims, state Health Minister Parsadi Lal Meena called the doctors' demand for the Bill's withdrawal "unreasonable," claiming that it was introduced only after incorporating the doctors' suggestions. Cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, on the other hand, claimed the government might roll it back given the growing agitation. Meanwhile, CM Ashok Gehlot urged the doctors to call off the agitation.Share this timeline