News

Volume 8 Issue 5 - March 01, 2011

‘Govt should withdraw 5% service tax levied on healthcare’

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal of bringing health care services under a five per cent service tax cover has drawn public ire. Many in the disability sector are also questioning the logic of the Government in imposing this extra tax when it spends only one per cent of its G.D.P. on health care.

Well-known cardiac surgeon and Chairman of Narayana Hrudayalaya, Dr Devy Shetty, calls it a 'Misery tax'. In an open letter, Dr Shetty explains what it means for the patient. If a patient undergoes an open heart surgery or gets chemotherapy done, he will have to shell out between Rs 5,000 to 20,000 extra as service tax. “Eighty per cent of the healthcare cost is borne by the citizen by selling what they have. What explanation does the government have, what is the justification?” asked Dr Shetty.

The Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) has also appealed to the Government to withdraw the five per cent tax levied on healthcare. “I wish the Finance Minister had not forgotten the needs of people with disabilities, particularly people with severe disabilities,” said Javed Abidi, Convenor, D.R.G. and Honorary Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.).

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister, he stated: “At most times, needs of disabled people are not fulfilled within the existing public health system, and therefore, per force, a disabled person has to go to a doctor or a rehab professional at one of the ‘air-conditioned’ hospitals or clinics. I appeal to you to please convince the Finance Minister to not levy this extra tax on healthcare and to please withdraw this proposal from the Union budget of 2011-2012”.

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