JAIPUR : Rajasthan on Tuesday passed a landmark Right to Health (RTH) Bill, 2022 (Bill No. 21 of 2022) under which private hospitals will not be able to charge emergency patients and will be compensated by the state — a “controversial” provision according to such hospitals and doctors who continued protests against the move for the second day and were later joined by government doctors.

As the stir crippled access to treatment in the Congress-governed state and fuelled fears of worse to come, they cast a shadow on a standout feature of the bill: once signed into law by the governor, it will make Rajasthan the first state in the country to guarantee such a right to health to its residents through a statute. Assembly polls are due later this year.

Right to health is fundamental to a modern welfare state. But often there are financial considerations that prevent it from happening. Rajasthan has taken a bold step. But the scheme’s success will depend on how it is implemented on the ground. Other states will be closely watching.

CM Ashok Gehlot expressed surprise at the protests. “I do not know why they have taken to the roads. We agreed on their demands and made the changes they wanted in the bill,” Gehlot said in Jodhpur.

On the contentious emergency treatment clause, the minister contended that the category was not open-ended. “We have kept only three emergency categories — animal bite, snake bite and accident emergency,” health minister Parsadi Lal Meena said, highlighting the provision of state reimbursements for emergency treatments.

But the private hospitals and doctors did not appear convinced. Their representatives clashed with the police amid water cannons as they urged governor Kalraj Mishra not to clear the bill.