The trinidad Guardian / Some private medical institutions are yet to decide whether the increase in licence fees for the institutions announced in the 2017-2018 Budget by Finance Minister Colm Imbert will be passed on to patients.

Owners of two facilities who spoke with the T&T Guardian had different views. One was sure “there will be no fee increase for patients,” while another said, “we will have no choice.”

Founder of the Southern Medical Centre, Dr Rupert Indar said as far as he understood “it is a one-off fee per year and we have to do what we have to do to run our business. We will pay the tax but there will be no increase at my facility.”

Given the number of beds at the Southern Medical Centre, he said, “we will end up paying $100,000 a year, which is something we have to do.”

He estimates that with about 10 private medical institutions in the country the minister “may collect about $1.5 to $2 million a year from the measure.”

Indar said the Minister should “go further and not just target private medical institutions.”

He said, “there are a number of little clinics and places that run ultrasound and CT Scans, there are also a number of private MRI centres in Port-of-Spain, if they taxing private institutions they should tax all private places because they also operate under a licence.”

Dr Mahesh Kumar a director at the Barrackpore Medical Centre and Private Hospital said the “almost two thousand per cent increase in the licence fee was unreasonable.”

He said the facility which he runs is “in a rural area and we are not centralised like those in the heart of San Fernando or Port-of-Spain, so we will definitely be negatively affected.”

The facility has a total of 25 beds and the fee moves from $150 a year to $25,000. He is still hoping that “Government will find a way to reduce it, if that can happen we will appreciate it.”

Kumar said running a medical facility “comes with high overheads. We have to pay medical staff, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, cleaners wardsmaids, maintenance all of these things, so there may be no choice but to pass on the cost to the clientele.”

This, he said, would be “discretionary,” depending on the patients.

Proposed increase

Less than 30 beds $25,00 per year

30 beds but less than 60 beds $50,000 per year

60 beds and over $100,000 per year.

Hospitals for the convalescent or chronically ill, homes for the elderly or a hospital for any designated disease or specified disease or disorder or illness are exempt from the increased fees. These institutions will continue to pay $150 a year.

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