New Delhi, January 3- In order to bring the attention of the Parliament and the nation at large against three ‘pro-rich, anti-poor’ bills, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will hold a nationwide protest tomorrow.
The bills IMA will be opposing are National Medical Commission Bill (NMC), 2017, IMC (amendments) Bill 2018, and Consumer Protection Bill 2018 pending before the Parliament.
The apex body of medical practitioners in India has decided that the local and state branches of the IMA will participate in the protest.
A statement released by the IMA said, “The IMA demands capping of compensation for medical negligence cases, unreasonably high compensations will give rise to more frivolous litigations and promote defensive medicine. Litigations by organisations or associations are of vindictive in nature. It will be a bad precedence to allow such a practice. Moreover, peer expert opinion has to be mandatory before taking up a case of medical negligence by the consumer forum. Representatives of Indian Medical Association have to be included in the consumer mediation cells and district, state and national consumer councils as the prominent stakeholders.”
The passive protest of the IMA will have its members wear black badges across the country while ensuring the at all services function normally. The IMA will give memorandums to all MPs in their constituencies.
NMC Bill, 2017
According to the IMA, NMC Bill, 2017 aims to centralize the entire authority in the hands of Government of India. The IMA feels that the passage of the Bill in both the Houses of the Parliament would ultimately culminate into the repealing of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
‘NMC Bill Anti-Poor’
The IMA termed the Bill anti poor, anti people and anti federal legislation which, if allowed to pass, will have unforeseen consequences not only on the healthcare sector but also on the federal structure of the country.
Pro-Rich Quota and Fee Regulation
Reservation of medical seats upto 50% for managements is denial of equitable opportunities and is certainly anti-people and pro rich. At present most of the states have a fee fixing committee. After the implementation of NMC Bill, they would lose their power to regulate fees.
Govt. Ignored Recommendations
The NMC bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health which had recommended 24 amendments unanimously. The Government of India had only accepted one recommendation and some in a partial manner. Hence, the IMA has stated that it is determined to resist and oppose it at all costs.
IMC (Amendments) Bill, 2018
Apart from the NMC Bill, 2017, IMA is also opposing the IMC (Amendments) Bill 2018 which was recently passed in Lok Sabha.
The IMA has very strong reservations in the way that an elected MCI was superseded for no credible reason and undue haste was shown to proclaim an ordinance creating a nominated Board of Governors while the election process was under way.
IMA holds that since MCI represents the plurality of opinion from multitude of institutions in our federal nation, it is preposterous to install a group of nominated Board of Governors who will never be able to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of diverse people of our country.
Consumer Protection Bill, 2018
The IMA stated that the original Consumer Protection Act, 1986 passed by the Parliament did not envisage to include medical profession, which was later brought under the purview of CPA in 1994 by a verdict of Hon’ble Supreme Court. Many concerns were placed by IMA in the draft bill 2015. They were put in public domain, but have not been addressed in the recently passed CPA Bill 2018.
IMA fears that this legislation will cause substantial increase in treatment cost, make healthcare unaffordable and inaccessible to weaker sections of the society. Small and medium hospitals will become unviable.
Adverse Impact on People
The miffed IMA blamed the government of showing concerns about the catastrophic health care cost on one hand and indirectly changing the rules on the other. What has to be realised is that such moves hit people directly. More and more people will go below the poverty line every year. Apart from the adverse impact on the small and medium hospitals, all small entrepreneurs across the spectrum will also be hit.
IMA also warned that the three bills have the potential to change the profile of medical profession and healthcare in India and could adversely affect the patients at large as well.