India Budget 2019: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has from time to time stressed on the importance of having a healthy lifestyle and providing quality treatment to all citizens residing in every nook and corner of the country. With roughly 5.8 million Indians succumbing to heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes every year, the central government should focus on long term financing option for healthcare sector in the Union Budget 2019, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has suggested in its pre-Budget 2019 memorandum.
The Centre has already launched PM Modi’s flagship Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), which was renamed the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan (PMJAY), in September last. The ambitious scheme aims at providing coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually and is aimed at benefiting more than 10 crore poor families. Till December over six lakh people have received treatment, as per Union Health Minister J P Nadda.
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However, FICCI has made recommendations for the Centre to consider in Budget 2019. These are “Long Term Financing Option for Healthcare Sector”, “Provide Specific Funds within Health Sector”, “Provide for Liberalized FDI Regime for Investments in Medical Education”, “Set up Health Infrastructure Fund and Medical Innovation Fund”, and “Provide Import duty relief for lifesaving equipment”.
The FICCI has suggested that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare needs to work out a solution along with the Ministry of Finance to provide long term financing to the healthcare sector citing this would channelize funds from the banking sector to create necessary healthcare infrastructure and enable development of innovative long-term financing structures for healthcare providers. The FICCI has suggested that the Centre that healthcare sector should be accorded ‘National Priority’ status.
To improve access, availability and quality of healthcare in Tier 2, Tier 3 and rural areas, the centre should provide specific funds within the Health Sector in Budget 2019. ICCI said there is a strong need for a liberalised FDI Regime for investments relating to Medical Education and training to bridge the huge demand-supply gap and meet global norms. In Budget 2019, the central government should make the import duty on lifesaving equipment consistently low or even exempt lifesaving equipment from duty completely to ensure lower cost of healthcare services delivery to the common man, the FICCI said.