Healthcare industry welcomed the government’s move to include ‘Healthy India’ as one of its 10 key priorities under the vision for the next decade as highlighted by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his Budget speech for 2019-20. The industry, however, said it expected higher budget allocation for healthcare. Reacting to the Interim Budget, Apollo Hospitals Group Joint MD Sangita Reddy said: “The interim budget threw light on the Government’s dedication to a healthy India with a distress-free healthcare system”. The Budget highlighted the government’s aim to bridge the urban-rural divide and provide benefits that people in a city have to those staying in villages. Healthcare should be a critical component of these efforts, she added. “We must not lose this opportunity to address the urban-rural imbalance in health infrastructure and ensure specific policies to encourage private sector to invest in the same,” Reddy said. Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) said the inclusion of ‘Healthy India’ in the government’s 10 key priorities under Vision 2030 is one of the key takeaways from today’s budget.
The Interim Budget 2019-20 appears to be comprehensive, wide ranging and balanced, with many positives for the health sector, however, the government needs to revisit unfinished agenda such as ‘Priority Sector’ status to healthcare…, it added. “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. However, we believe it has to be done collaboratively through value based scientific costing driving sustainable pricing supported by improved ecosystem efficiency gains,” its Secretary General Siddhartha Bhattacharya said. Stating that one interesting highlight in the interim budget is the vision for ‘Healthy India’ by building a distress free, functional and comprehensive healthcare and wellness system by 2030, Aster DM Healthcare Founder Chairman and MD Azad Moopen said: “What we missed in this budget is the increase in budget pie for healthcare”. Saying that healthcare industry was expecting larger spends on Ayushman Bharat program, Sahajanand Medical Technologies CEO Ganesh Sabat said: “… we expected larger spends on Ayushman Bharat but the current increase is insufficient”. There is no beneficiary scheme for the local manufacturers of medical device, whereas the government wants to reduce healthcare cost in India, he added.
The Interim Budget 2019 speech spelled out the central government’s scale-up in healthcare initiatives over the past few years. This is encouraging as this focus helps augment and strengthen health access across India, Roche Diagnostics, MD India and Neighboring Markets Shravan Subramanyam said. “With the announcement of ambitious projects like Ayushman Bharat last year, expectations were high for the 2019 Budgetary recommendations on healthcare. Some inclusions on outpatient care and diagnostics would have been great,” he added. Manipal Hospitals Chairman Sudarshan Ballal said, Ayushman Bharat will empower the needy class of the country, a movement that can potentially change the healthcare in India. A scheme of this magnitude would be very challenging and certainly a herculean task to implement.
“The main problems I see in implementing this, would be the need to build an enormous infrastructure, healthcare personnel and finances. The government has allocated some additional funds for this but will require a much larger allocation in the future,” he added. – Business Standard