Union Budget 2018: Government push for Swasth Bharat welcome, need more, says industry

Union Budget 2018: Healthcare industry today gave a thumbs up to the government’s initiatives such Rs 1,200-crore allocation for Ayushman Bharat programme and providing Rs 5 lakh annual cover to 10 crore families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

FM Arun Jaitley presents Union Budget 2018 today.
Budget 2018: "The initiative to cover 10 crore families with Rs 5 lakh per family/per year with insurance cover for secondary and tertiary healthcare will be a game changer," Reddy added. (Reuters)

Union Budget 2018: Healthcare industry today gave a thumbs up to the government’s initiatives such Rs 1,200-crore allocation for Ayushman Bharat programme and providing Rs 5 lakh annual cover to 10 crore families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. Reacting to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s proposals in Budget 2018-19, Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy said: “My heartiest congratulations to this government for investing in creating a Swasth Bharat by launching the Ayushman Bharat programme.” Such ambitious out-of-the box thinking was a burning need of the hour and the government has not disappointed, he added. “The initiative to cover 10 crore families with Rs 5 lakh per family/per year with insurance cover for secondary and tertiary healthcare will be a game changer,” Reddy added.

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Commenting in a similar vein, Healthcare Federation of India (Nathealth) said: “The provision of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for medical reimbursement, under National Health Protection Scheme – ‘Aayushman Bharat’ will go a long way to achieve the goals of universal health coverage.” It also applauded the government’s focus on Health Protection Scheme which would be the largest healthcare programme in the world. “FM’s Union Budget 2018 clearly focuses on improving healthcare access for the less privileged and on ‘preventive and wellness’ both of which are very encouraging,” Nathealth Secretary General Anjan Bose said. However, there are other critical needs which remain unmet, such as according national priority sector status to healthcare, he added.

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“The Union Budget 2018 has taken a huge step in making healthcare affordable and accessible by launching the world’s largest healthcare scheme,” Apollo Hospitals MD Suneeta Reddy said. “The government has reiterated its commitment to ‘Universal Healthcare’ and has announced flagship schemes to provide better healthcare to people at bottom of the pyramid – National Health Policy and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana,” Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI) Chairman and DG Pavan Choudary said. While access to basic healthcare is an important determinant of universal healthcare, another critical factor is quality of healthcare. The latter requires access to advance healthcare technology for best health management of patients, he added. “The government should have looked at incentivising import of advance medical devices into the country by bringing down the customs duty,” Choudary said.

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Khaitan and Co Partner Bhavik Narsana also said the national health scheme of the government announced in the Union Budget 2018 is a much needed and great initiative. This is a positive for the healthcare and pharma industry. “By providing Rs 5 lakh per year to poor families for secondary and tertiary care related hospitalisation needs, the government has indeed taken concrete steps in reducing India’s health burden,” HealthCare at Home CEO and Co-Founder Vivek Srivastava said.

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