Service charge

Hospitals can increase service fees as consent fees increase

Hospital visits could become more expensive, as medical institutions have said that the increased consent fees they have to pay will be passed on to the end consumer – in this case, patients.

Under the Karnataka State Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution (Procedure for Transaction of Business) and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the annual capital investment based consent fee for healthcare facilities that fall into the red category has been increased from 33% to 900%, the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) said. This would apply to hospitals with capital investment between ₹50 crore and ₹1,000 crore.

Explaining how this will affect hospitals, PHANA Chairman Prasanna HM said The Hindu, “For a small hospital with 80 beds, for example, the increase is 300%. This was raised without scientific calculation, and we are charged a percentage of our investments. This will harm the health industry. From ₹1.5 lakh for five years, it will rise to ₹6 lakh.

Hospitals say they have already invested in facilities that include STPs and ETPs. “We also pay ₹58 per kg for biomedical waste, in addition to STP and ETP fees. On top of that, we pay more now. With any expense, the end customer will be overwhelmed. Service charges in hospitals will increase,” he added.

The association recently met with the Minister of Environment, Ecology and Tourism, Anand Singh, demanding government intervention to reduce the hike in consent fees paid for pollution prevention and control of the water for all infrastructure projects relating to health establishments (hospitals and retirement homes). Calling the rise “tough”, PHANA had argued that the sector was service-oriented and could not be equated with product-oriented industries.

Calling for the health sector to be considered a special category, PHANA also urged the government to reduce consent fees, while demanding phased implementation and keeping the renewal period to once every five years.

KSPCB officials were not available for comment.