In the wake of upcoming parliamentary elections, the Narendra Modi government presented the interim-budget instead of Full Budget. The budget, which purposefully avoided any major announcement due to propriety of the interim budget, highlighted role of healthcare infrastructure and its significance. Mukul Kumar Mishra of Elets News Network (ENN) looks at what response it evoked in the healthcare industry.
Presented by the then interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in the Lok Sabha on February 1, the Budget 2019-2020 emphasised on creating a strong healthcare delivery system in the country while enabling people of all strata to avail quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare.
The minister underlined, for instance, about a new AIIMS in Haryana and a Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence, which would lay a strong foundation for a robust healthcare system to enhance patient care.
Goyal, who replaced Arun Jaitley as finance minister when he was recuperating from an ailment in the US, announced the vision of the Government to build a distress free, functional and comprehensive healthcare and wellness system by 2030.
During the budget presentation, Goyal said: The Ayushman Bharat scheme will be scaled up to benefit more number of people with better implementation mechanism.
HOW INDUSTRY VIEWED THE BUDGET?
Industry players hailed the budget and lauded the Government’s efforts towards creating a healthy India.
According to NATHEALTH, Healthcare Federation of India, the Interim Budget 2019 appears to be a comprehensive, wide ranging and balanced, with many positives for the health sector.
“NATHEALTH welcomes the scaling up plans for the Ayushman Bharat Mission and the government’s focus on universal health coverage that improves India’s march towards a Swasthya Bharat,” said Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Secretary General, NATHEALTH. “However, we believe it has to be done collaboratively through value based scientific costing driving sustainable pricing supported by improved ecosystem efficiency gains.”
Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “A forward-thinking budget with a definitive vision to accelerate much greater progress and enhance wellbeing of Indians, the allocation of Rs 6,400 crores for Ayushman Bharat is a welcome.”
Now it is paramount, that India ramps up its efforts to arrest the upsurge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are increasing like an epidemic.”
Nilesh Jain, Founding partner, Clinivantage Healthcare Technologies, said, “The thought of accessible and affordable medical healthcare treatment is taking center stage. Adoption of new technology, AI and transparency controls via deployment of unified cloud system will help speed the success story of Ayushman Bharat.”
Dr Aashish Chaudhry, MD, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital said Interim Budget 2019 reaffirms the government’s commitment to improve healthcare systems in the country.
“The government has presented a positive Interim Budget for the sector. Creating distress-free health delivery systems with necessary infrastructure for comprehensive wellness of the people would be a game-changer. However, Comprehensive Wellness for a Healthy India needs bigger collaborations and all stakeholders including private providers need to participate proactively,” said Chaudhry.
“It is laudable that the Finance Minister has outlined the government’s vision of a healthy India with ‘distress-free and comprehensive wellness system’. Envisioning a healthy India and taking a step towards it will have a far-reaching positive effect in the years to come on the country’s healthcare delivery system,” said Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate.
According to Shanthini Arunthavanathan, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Westminster Healthcare, Chennai, “The government’s vision towards having a distress free healthcare and a functional, comprehensive healthcare system by 2030 is praiseworthy.”
“The announcement regarding setting up of 22nd All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Haryana is a welcome move towards enhancing advanced medical research in India, producing a greater number of qualified medical professionals and expanding opportunities for the aspiring medical students of the country,” Arunthavanathan added.
Dr Dharminder Nagar, MD, Paras Healthcare said: “It is great to know that under Ayushman Bharat around 10 lakh sick people have already received treatment and Rs 3,000 crore have been saved by poor families. Shri Piyush Goyal also stated his government’s intention of providing an “environment of health assurance” for all people.”
“The government can now introduce new strategies to make sure that all Indian citizens are covered under some kind of health insurance by launching new insurance initiatives for the middle classes and reducing the GST slab on insurance premium from the current 18 percent,” he added.
Dr Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman Manipal Hospitals, said, “The greatest challenge in Health care today is to focus on prevention of illness, primary care, creation of wellness rather than treat illness and provide Universal health care for the masses. The government in its efforts to achieve these goals has spent resources and efforts to make about 5 lakh villages defecation free as part of the Swachh Bharat mission will improve sanitation which will go a long way in preventing morbidity and mortality especially in children.”
Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical, said, “the Interim budget is in favor of two sections: the common man seeking access to quality and affordable healthcare; and the organizations providing this. Given the rising cost of healthcare, the reduction in prices of essential medicines, stents, and knee implants will come as a boon.”