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Don’t impose SST on physiotherapy, govt urged

Publish date: Sat, 24 Feb 2024, 08:05 AM

PETALING JAYA: Physiotherapy should also be exempted from the Sales and Service Tax (SST), says prominent physiotherapist Datuk Dr BS Bains.

The founder and director of BainsPhysio said the government should consider exempting such treatments from the 8% SST as it could alleviate the financial burden of patients.

“I urge the Finance Ministry to consider exempting physiotherapy treatments and services provided by private clinics and hospitals,” he said in an interview.

On Feb 20, the government rescinded its decision to impose the SST on traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) services from March 1 to prioritise an accessible healthcare system for the people.

Dr Bains said he had written to the government to consider his proposal following the decision to exempt T&CM services from the SST. He said if the SST was to be imposed on physiotherapy, it would drive some patients to general hospitals.

“This may pose a risk to their well-being as they have to wait longer for appointments since public healthcare facilities are already burdened.

“We are part and parcel of the healthcare system and can ease the burden on general hospitals.

“For example, patients with frozen shoulders can be treated with several sessions, but their condition could worsen if their therapy sessions are set two months apart at public health centres.

“Imposing the SST would affect many individuals, particularly those with limited finances, such as the elderly,” he said, adding that those deprived of jobs due to chronic conditions like stroke may be deterred from seeking urgent treatment due to the cost.

Dr Bains, who is also the former president of the Malaysian Physiotherapy Association, said physiotherapy is crucial to the holistic treatment and rehabilitation of patients as it could assist in the restoration of mobility, functionality and overall quality of life for individuals recovering from injuries, surgery or chronic conditions.

In recent years, he said there has been a growing recognition of the field as it plays an integral role in medicine, encompassing a wide range of specialities from orthopaedic injuries to neurology, paediatrics and geriatrics.

“With the government’s commitment to enhance public health, it is imperative that barriers to accessing physiotherapy services are minimised.

“Furthermore, considering the diverse range of conditions and patients served by physiotherapists, exempting such services from the SST aligns with the government’s objective of ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all,” he added.

Dr Bains also urged the government to consider offering subsidies for the elderly in nursing homes who are attending physiotherapy sessions.

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