Hospitals, public hail health tax roll back

March 22nd, 2011 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) The roll back of the proposed five percent service tax for private hospitals was Tuesday welcomed with open arms by health institutions and the public.

“This is a welcome decision by finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee). Access to healthcare to all and that of the highest standards has been the driving force for all of us who constitute healthcare sector in India. The imposition of this service tax would have been a huge deterrent to this vision,” Prathap C. Reddy, chairman of Apollo group of hospitals, said in a statement.

In the federal budget for 2011-12, the finance minister had proposed to levy five percent tax on services provided by hospitals with 25 or more beds, facility of central air-conditioning and diagnostic tests of all kinds.

“After the progressive move, the country will see our renewed efforts to serve the nation and we will relentlessly persevere to keep all Indians in good health,” Reddy added.

Renowned cardiac surgeon from Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudayalaya group of hospitals Devi Shetty, who had earlier termed the hike as “misery tax for patients”, termed the move “a victory for the common man”.

“It’s a great victory for the aam aadmi. I had told the finance minister that the hike will have an impact on the poor people who are borrowing money even for basic health care,” Shetty told reporters here.

The decision was also welcomed by the public.

“Private hospitals would have only increased the cost of treatment…to incur the cost from the patient. This was much needed,” said Ambika Goswami, a government employee.

“Government hospitals are always packed, one cannot think of depending on them in the hour of crisis,” added Goswami.

Druv Dhall, 38, a private banker, said: “The government should have thought before imposing the tax hike. The cost of treatment at air conditioned hospitals is already very expensive, and another five percent would have meant a lot to the people.”

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