Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) has said that the “Right to Health"Bill passed by Rajasthan government last week raises significant questions that weigh in on private providers around operational viability, financial sustainability and patient privacy. The healthcare industry body also expressed fears of increased legal and criminal cases that could be lodged against doctors as a result of the new law.

"We sincerely request the Rajasthan Government to put this bill on abeyance till a consensus is achieved and an operational framework is established," Dr. Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, President, NATHEALTH and managing director and CEO of Fortis Healthcare said.

The passage of the new law had triggered protests among private healthcare providers and medical doctors of Rajasthtan.

The Right to Health Bill provides every person in the state of Rajasthan the right to avail free outdoor and indoor patient department services, medicines, and diagnostics in public health institutions and emergency treatment and care at all health care providers, without any delay waiting for prepayment or police clearance. It gives the right to every person in the state to receive information about the nature and cause of illness, results, complications and cost of treatment, and access related records, and stipulates informed consent before specific tests or treatments, confidentiality and privacy in treatments at all health care establishments.

PRS Legislative Research, in its note on the original draft of “The Rajasthan Right to Health Bill, 2022” points out that under the Bill, a resident of Rajasthan has the right to avail free healthcare services from any clinical establishment, such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, including private establishments.  However, it observes that the Bill does not specify if the state will reimburse private clinical establishments for providing such free services and hence may violate Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Dr Raghuvanshi said that while universal healthcare (UHC) is a laudable objective that can only happen with the active participation of the public and the private sector. “But it requires serious commitments - political, financial, technical and operational and involves consensus building upfront among key stakeholders. UHC has never been achieved anywhere in the world where the private sector fears that public good will be delivered at private cost”, he said.  

According to him, the rights and obligations (of all stakeholders) have to be carefully balanced and an operational framework needs to be established with accountability on each counter parties. “This has to be deliberated upfront and agreed upon between major stakeholders. This is a prerequisite and not an afterthought of such a major bill”, he said.

The association also states that it is ready to support all governments- central and state, to outline the positive role the private sector can play in such a UHC framework and work collaboratively to help build consensus.

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