Friday, January 8, 2016

Maharashtra shows the way, now the rest of the country must follow

The Maharashtra State Government recently exempted dialysis machines, consumables and drugs used commonly by dialysis patients from all taxes. Speaking to The Hindustan Times, an officer of the state government said:

"The drugs used for dialysis attract 5% VAT in the state, while medical equipment are sold with a VAT ranging between 5-12.5%. Import duty on dialysis equipment (dialyser and tubing) is around 44%, making the procedure very expensive. The decision will bring much relief to patients.”

So true indeed!

Most developed countries fully cover dialysis expenses for their citizens. This is based on the realisation that kidney failure is a chronic disease and the entire life's savings of families can get wiped out in paying for its treatment. In India, we have no such luck. Most patients cannot afford the treatment and simply die. The rest stutter along barely managing to make ends meet.

In these circumstances, the least the government can do is to not burden the patients and their families further. What kind of a state would impose taxes on equipment and drugs for such a condition?

The Government of Maharashtra has shown the way. By abolishing all taxes on equipment, consumables and drugs, they have taken a decision that deserves all the praise and support they can get.

The Government of India and other states should take this initiative to its logical conclusion. These taxes must be abolished with immediate effect in the rest of the country as well.

Another important measure that would go a long way to alleviate the problems faced by dialysis patients would be increasing the exemption on medical expenses from Income Tax. Currently patients must pay tax even on the amount spent on dialysis sessions and associated expenses. This is yet another example of how lopsided some of our policies are. The Government must make a clear distinction between healthcare expenses and expenses on luxuries.

The Right to Live is the most fundamental of all rights. Let us not mess with this at any cost.

1 comment:

Ranga Bashyam said...

OCTRAI is also removed ??