Abolish GST at teaching hospitals for the sake of patients

Dr Muhammad Omar, PAS Youth Exco Member | .

PAS Youth rejects persistent government inconsistencies in the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).

Despite more than a year of advanced planning, the implementation of GST is far from what is expected out of a competent and efficient administration. The latest development with regard to teaching hospitals having to charge GST on their patients is entirely unacceptable and insensitive to most Malaysians needs.

In terms of services, teaching universities are not any different from government hospitals with added commitment and responsibility to teach and high impact research. Also, teaching hospitals are tertiary centres with a variety of subspecialities and advanced equipment, receiving referrals for complicated cases from all over the nation.

Hence, to charge GST on the patients’ treatment is akin to robbing them when they need help the most. Certainly it is going to have a direct and significant consequences on their health status now and in the long run.

It has to be emphasised that increments of treatment fee will limit patients’ access to healthcare services and subsequently increase their risk of morbidity and mortality. PAS Youth would like to remind the government that the healthcare sectors are obligated to the Millennium Development Goals whereby Malaysia is still behind.

The dengue crisis is far from over, post-flood infectious diseases are still rampant and the prime minister has just declared that obesity is currently Malaysians number one enemy. To implement GST on healthcare services in this space of time is counter-productive. Our people are our best resource for this nation. As we face uncertain economic outlook, Malaysia need its people to be healthy and strong.

However, given unwavering commitment by the government to implement GST due to its past mistakes and lapses in judgment, PAS Youth believes the government must set up a separate fund to further help those in need of assistance in paying their health bills. Most research has shown that low socioeconomic group is the one who is going to need more medical attention in relation to disease prevention and treatment.

With the introduction of GST, despite government assurance, it has been obvious that the cost of living is going to increase beyond their control. Thus, it is most appropriate to set aside a fund to support the medical bills to ensure that no patient is left behind or let down. Also, now that everyone is realising how healthcare services come at a price, patients must be empowered with knowledge and resources for disease prevention.

That being said, PAS Youth always believes it is the government who first must change their attitude and spending habit. Bureaucracy and administrative cost has to be severely optimised.

All the chaos surrounding GST only shows how the lack of transparency is hindering progress. Prudence would call for unnegotiable integrity and accountability from the government of the day. As we witness BN’s policy of bribing the people with election goodies proving to be the worst recipe ever; today the rakyat are paying them back with a hefty price, GST.

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