6 June 2009
By Ravikiran Deshmukh
State Legislature Committee has recommended that the government scrap all privileges granted to them, if they are reluctant to treat the poor
There are 80 such hospitals in the city registered under the Bombay Charitable Trust Act that enjoy several benefits. Therefore, if the government accepts the recommendations of the committee, the hospitals have a lot to lose.
Some of the benefits include tax exemptions on donations under the Income Tax Act, octroi and customs waivers on medical equipment, concessions in their electricity bills and water charges, land allotments at concessional rates. Besides these, the hospitals are also eligible for additional FSI.
Committee set up in 2007, takes a tough Stand
The committee was first set up in 2007 and initially only had members from the state council. But from December 2008, it also allowed members from the state assembly. It is at present jointly headed by council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh and Assembly Speaker Babasaheb Kupekar.
Hospitals, registered under Bombay Charitable Trust Act, have to
- Reserve 10 per cent of beds each for the poor and needy patients and treat them free of cost.
- Reserve 2 per cent of the income under the Indigent Patient Fund and use the same for the treatment and operations of the pa–
While tabling the report in the Assembly on Friday, executive Chairman of Committee and Minister of State for Law and Judiciary Hasan Mushrif said the government has proposed stringent punishment for hospitals that fail to comply with the legal provisions and guidelines issued by the Bombay High Court.
Of the 12 recommendations that the committee has made, one states that even if a hospital claims it never sought any government concessions, it should still be required to treat poor patients.
It recommended the Charity Commissioner (who is responsible for the implementation of the Bombay Charitable Trust Act), play a more significant role.
It was suggested that the commissioner bring to the notice of all charitable hospitals the importance of abiding by legal provisions. At present, according to the HC, such hospitals can face a fine of up to Rs 25,000 and imprisonment up to six months, or both in case of non–compliance.
Some other recommendations are to increase the annual income ceiling of the poor who want to avail of medical benefits, from the current Rs 25000 to Rs 50,000. It also suggested that the government clarify which individual from a hospital’s management be held responsible for legal action if the hospitable was found breaching legal provisions.
The committee also said that it was actively considering the setting up of a permanent committee, to monitor the effective implementation of the legal provisions with regard to charitable hospitals.