After nearly two weeks of demonstrations, doctors in Rajasthan called off their protests against the Right to Health Bill on Tuesday as the government agreed to make changes in the law that will put most private hospitals outside its purview.

The protests had started soon after Rajasthan passed the Right to Health Bill on March 21, causing it to become the first state in India to make access to healthcare a legal right. The major point of contention in the law was a provision that made it mandatory for public and private hospitals to offer emergency treatment to patients without any prepayment.

Even though the Act stated the government will reimburse the hospitals, the protestors argued there was no clarity on how or when they will be repaid.

On Tuesday, as the doctors gathered in Jaipur to continue their protest, the medical secretary of Rajasthan agreed to dilute the law. Under the amended provisions, all private medical establishments other than those built in public-private partnerships, or have received subsidy or land from the government, have been exempted from the law.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted that a consensus has been reached between the government and the doctors. “I hope that the doctor-patient relationship will remain the same in future,” he added.

Vijay Kapoor, the secretary of doctors’ body Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Society, told Scroll that the doctors wanted the Bill to be repealed right from the outset.

“We welcome the government’s decision to remove a large section of hospitals from the ambit of the bill,” he said. “The Bill was forcing the private sector to provide free healthcare services which was an infringement of their right to practice and earn.”

The Indian Medical Association tweeted about the development saying it was a “landmark victory”.

Also read: What Rajasthan’s right to health law promises – and where it falls short

Chhaya Pachauli, a member of health rights body Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, told Scroll that the new provisions do not account for major changes in the law.

“The Act anyway is majorly centred around strengthening public health care system and that should remain the priority of the government,” Pachauli said. “Now that the clash is over, we urge the government to initiate the process for rules framing at the earliest.”

What does the Act say?

Under the Right to Health Act, neither government nor private hospitals nor doctors can refuse a person seeking emergency treatment.

Emergency treatment would include care in case of accidents, animal or snake bites, complications in pregnancy or an emergency defined by the state health authority.

However, critics of the legislation believe that it will put more pressure on healthcare workers, especially those in private hospitals.

Also read: Why this expert believes Rajasthan doctors’ fears aren’t unfounded