: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam admitted that there may, in fact, be an increase in healthcare costs after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He, however, assured that the Government would not allow the hike to be "substantial" and would continue to find ways to minimise costs by providing highly-subsidised healthcare for the rakyat.
"The Government is committed to ensuring that there would be no substantial increases in healthcare costs even after GST is implemented," Subramaniam said in an e-mail statement.
He was responding to DAP publicity chief Tony Pua's comments that the health minister was "either ignorant or lying" to claim that healthcare costs will not be impacted by the GST.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP had claimed that a price increase over healthcare costs was imminent and the only question was "by how much."
Pua's attacks came following media reports quoting Subramaniam as saying that healthcare costs would not be impacted when the GST is implemented in 2015.
Clarifying his statement made over the weekend, Subramaniam said he had told the media that health services were generally GST-exempt and the government would ensure prices would stay affordable.
"Unfortunately, my reply did not appear in full in many of the Press releases, thus giving rise to the wrong impression resulting in Pua's statement," he said.
Explaining further, he said the Government is very much aware of the need to ensure the continuation of providing affordable healthcare, particularly for the poor, once GST is implemented.
"Towards this noble objective, the Government has declared that healthcare services provided by the Government will not be subjected to GST."
The Government has declared health services as GST- exempt, whereby all services which are defined as health services by the Health Ministry will be GST- exempt.
Subramaniam reiterated that the ministry would have continuing discussions and engagement with the Finance Ministry "to look at the entire spectrum of health services to minimise the effects of GST in increasing healthcare cost."
"Rest assured, the Health Ministry will continue to play a proactive role in minimising the effects of GST on essential health services to ensure that all Malaysians, particularly those in the low-income group, will continue to have access to affordable healthcare."