Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s proposal that hospitals be accorded industry status under the ambitious Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme has got a warm response from industry. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has welcomed the proposal, along with some suggestions to improve the scope of the scheme.
Amid widespread reports that private hospitals are not too keen to partner the government in providing healthcare services under Ayushman Bharat, Arvind Lal, Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee and CMD, Dr Lal PathLabs Ltd said that the current PMJAY (Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana) package rates may not be sustainable to set up and run operations in some locations.
“The key to engage more private healthcare organisations will be a viable model for their sustainability,” Arvind Lal said, adding: “The new hospitals which will be mandated to empanel under PMJAY should be allowed to charge other patients who can afford to pay as per market rates.”
“FICCI’s Health Services Committee has been advocating for more than a decade for long term financing options and viability gap funding (VGP) for the healthcare sector and it is heartening to see it shaping into reality,” said Sangita Reddy, Senior VP, FICCI and Joint MD, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd.
Reddy also pointed out the sorry state of hospital beds in India as they are concentrated only in the metros, thus making quality healthcare provision lesser reachable in other places. “This opportune step by the government strongly reinforces private healthcare providers’ commitment towards improving access to quality care,” she added.
The industry status will help hospitals with land acquisition, clearances and funding and is expected to boost the expansion of healthcare infrastructure in tier 2 and 3 cities. Also, hospitals are expected to empanel under PMJAY.
Ayushman Bharat is PM Modi’s pet scheme which aims to take healthcare to India’s most poor people. The benefit of the scheme will extend to over 10 crore poor families who otherwise could not afford expensive medical treatments. Ayushman Bharat provides for a medical insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.