cap on doctors’ fee

A proposal in the Rajya Sabha to put a

Indian Medical Association

Indian Medical Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

cap on doctors’ fee has created uproar in the medical fraternity. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has already decided to go to the court, even as patient bodies and activists hail the move.

The proposal titled ‘Regularization of Doctors’ Fees’ was put forward by Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury. It calls for formation of an expert committee to study the pattern of charging, classifying the kind of services offered by doctors, and putting a cap on the consultation charges accordingly. At present, doctors’ fees can range from a few hundreds to a few thousands depending on seniority and specialty.

“Regularization of consultation charges has never been done for any professional. Why only doctors?” questioned IMA secretary Dr Jayesh Lele. He said IMA has already taken legal advice and is prepared to go to the court, if the proposal is passed. “It is against the Constitution to fix remuneration of professionals,” he added.

Senior physician Dr Pratit Samdani, who practices in several south Mumbai hospitals, was of a similar view. “It is wrong to pin down a single profession when there is a general consensus that professionals such as doctors, lawyers, architects decide their own remuneration,” said Samdani. “For example, when one goes to an A-grade restaurant, he or she is willing to pay 50 per cent more than a B-grade restaurant. Then why seclude only doctors?” he asked.

The final draft of the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Act, which was submitted to the government in June, has also done away with the most important clause of ‘standardization of rates for patients’. According to health activist Abhay Shukla of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, the patients’ groups and health activists had demanded the cap on the rates, while doctors’ lobby had opposed it completely.

“At the end, doctors had their way and the final draft did not have any clause on regularizing the rates,” said Shukla, adding it was absolutely justified and possible to have standard rates.

“Most western countries follow this pattern. Healthcare is a distress good and not a luxury good. Therefore, basic health services including the doctors’ fees should have a cap,” he added.

Health activists were also of the view that if doctors followed a standard treatment protocol like the West, rate variation will not take place. “Standard treatment protocol will result in doing away with all unnecessary investigations, tests and medications that are commonly prescribed here,” said Shukla. [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] stockholm 022

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