What Is Right To Health Bill & Why Are Doctors Protesting In Rajasthan?

On Monday, thousands of doctors and medical professionals took to the streets of Rajasthan’s Jaipur. According to an estimate, about 20,000 doctors, their family members, and people associated with the medical profession including medical shop owners took part in the rally which started from the resident doctors hostel ground of the SMS Hospital. Even days before the massive rally, several nursing homes and hospitals remained closed due to a general strike called by the doctors and other medical professionals. Several patients were stranded, surgeries delayed bringing a pressure on the state’s healthcare system. Now, All of these doctors and medical professionals belonged to or were related to Private hospitals in the state.

They were protesting against the new Right to health bill brought by the Rajasthan Govt led by CM Ashok gehlot. Evemn the Indian Medical Association calling the bill Draconian observed Monday 27th march as Black day. The doctors across the private hospitals have demanded that the govt withdraws the bill. The Govt on the other hand, has refused to relent.
So what exactly is the Right to health Bill? what are the provisions? why are Private hospital doctors protesting against it? Who gains and who loses from the new scheme? and How much this scheme means for Ashok gehlot who is eyeing for another term in the assembly elections, later this year??
Let’s talk about this in today’s video. But before that…

Last week, Rajasthan passed Right to Health Bill in the assembly becoming the first state in the country to do so. In the post-Covid years, the Ashok gehlot govt of Rajasthan has given special emphasis on govt health schemes with the aim to establish Rajasthan as a model state in Healthcare. The state already has several popular health scheme. Adding to the list, the state assembly last week passed the right to health bill which provides  every resident of the state the right to avail free Out Patient Department (OPD) services and In Patient Department (IPD) services at all public health facilities. Also, similar healthcare services will be provided free of cost at select private facilities. the bill was passed amid clamour and opposition from BJP.

Private hospitals and doctors, medical professionals associated with the private facilities however are up in arms against this bill.
This is a very important bill from the Healthcare perspective, because it paves the path inframing healthcare as a tangible “right” for citizens. It also establishes and protects the legal rights of patients to access equitable healthcare services.
What Exactly Does the Bill Say?

The Congress-led government tabled the Right to Healthcare Bill, 2022 in the Rajasthan State Assembly in September 2022. The Bill provides rights to patients and healthcare providers, places the obligation on the government to protect these legal rights and mandates the setting up of grievance redressal mechanisms. The preamble of the bill states that it will lead to “progressive reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure in seeking, accessing or receiving health care” for patients. Under this scheme:

1. Rajasthan residents will be entitled to free check-ups, drugs, diagnostics, emergency transport and care at all public health institutes, along with affordable surgeries. The Bill frames medical services as a public service rather than a vehicle for making money. It aims to make provisions for the security and satisfaction of equal rights to health and well-being for every individual.
2. if a patient is unable to pay the charges for emergency care, stabilisation or referral, the government will reimburse the health care provider.
many of us, might have had this experience, if not then good. But some of us have had this experience where you have an emergency situation, you reach the hospital, but you are asked to deposit certain amount before proceeding to the treatment, now in case the amount is hefty, and you can’t arrange the money upfront? then what? This bill primarily addresses this question. It states that no person should be turned away by Private hospitals, in case he is not able to pay for the treatment at the time. And in case if a patient is unable to pay the charges for emergency care, stabilisation or referral, the government will reimburse the health care provider. Not only that, your transportation, means the ambulance facilities will be available at no cost too.

3. The Bill states that the hospital can’t delay treatment on grounds of police clearance if it is a medico-legal case.
4. Clause 3 of the Bill lays down 20 rights a State resident will be entitled to — including the right to informed consent, to seek information (in the form of medical records and documents) regarding diagnosis and treatment, to keep this data confidential and private and to receive treatment without discrimination based on caste, class, age, gender, among other markers.

5. Clause 4 of the Bill shifts the burden of responsibility in providing adequate medical services to the government. The government is “obligated” to provide funds, set up institutions and constitute grievance redressal systems. They must take the initiative to set up a State Health Authority and district health authorities. Beyond resolving complaints, the authorities would be tasked with planning healthcare services, monitoring services and conducting routine clinical, social and economic audits.

6. Moreover, the Bill also talks about the safety of healthcare providers and improving public health infrastructure. Clause 4 mandates that the government develop a Human Resource Policy for Health ensuring the availability and equitable distribution of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers at all levels of the system across regions. This focus on making services equitable and qualitative “works in favour of the healthcare providers and helps to improve patient-doctor relationship,
Now Rajasthan already has many other health schemes. The most popular one is chiranjeevi health insurance scheme. Under this, free treatment up to Rs 10 lakh is provided. This has been increased to Rs 25 lakh in the latest budget, which will be implemented from the next financial year. here is the Rajasthan Government Health Scheme for government employees, which includes ministers, current and former MLAs. Nishulk Nirogi Rajasthan, which also includes the Free Medicine scheme. Under this, all OPD and IPD services in government hospitals, including the registration fee, are provided for free. there is the Free Test scheme which provides for up to 90 free tests in government hospitals attached with medical colleges.
Now the Indian Constitution does not explicitly talks about right to health but it is derived from right to life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. In the past, Supreme court of India has often stressed that it is state’s duty to protect and promote the health of citizens. More than half of the countries across the world have guaranteed right to public health as a constitutional right.
Why Are Private Hospital Doctors Against It???

The main contention of The Private health facilities and doctors is that the state is passing off its obligation of ensuring equitable access to health to Private hospitals. In short, instead of bringing govt hospitals, health facilities at par with private hospitals, it is passing off the burden to private facilities alone.
Secondly, with several health scheme already active in the state, one more health scheme, they believe will only result in bureaucratic overreach. The bill has also been criticized as vague for not defining certain terms like what constitutes emergency? and “compelling doctors of one speciality to treat patients outside their speciality as part of emergency.” The bill provides for govt to give fund to set up grievance dredressal systems, but who will form these systems? there is a question mark on it. It talks about Human resource policy, but when and how will it be drafted, no timeframe is given.
However, the govt says that many of the doctors’ objections have already been addressed in the bill.

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