A fruitful budget for the healthcare sector

Budget 2020 brings in positive growth for the healthcare delivery in the country, point out experts

Fruitful budget, Alok Roy, Chairman, Medica group of Hospitals, Viability Gap, Jan Aushadhi, Sanjay Bhutani, Medical Technology Association of India, MTaI, Prasanna Deshpande, Indian Immunologicals Limited, Ameera Shah, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India, HCFI, IJCP Group, Medtalks.in

Dr Alok Roy, Chairman, Medica group of Hospitals
The government has shown its commitment towards healthy India by providing INR 69,000 crore to the healthcare sector. It has rightfully focused on bringing in several key structural reforms for the nation moving towards that goal. It is heartening to see the Government’s display of commitment and concern towards rural healthcare by announcing more empanelled hospitals under the flagship Ayushman Bharat Scheme in Tier 2 and 3 cities. The budget has rightly outlined by specifically focusing to those areas where there are no hospitals. The proposal to set up Viability Gap funding window to build hospitals in the public-private-partnership (PPP) model will widen the scope of the government’s flagship scheme, AB-PM-JAY and will provide large scale employment opportunities to youth.
It is encouraging to see the government’s support towards manufacturing high end medical devices under the Make in India program. This will increase affordability and ease of access in procuring the equipment.
On the other hand, the announcement of cess on import of medical equipment will be used for creating infrastructure for health services in the aspirational districts is accepted as a welcome move.

The allocation of ₹3000 crore for skill development which also includes hospital staff, care givers and paramedical staff increasing competency in the healthcare sector, is encouraging.

The expansion of the Jan Aushadhi scheme is a move to make affordable healthcare at the door step of the common man.

Budget 2020 brings in very positive growth for the healthcare delivery in the country. This is not a populist budget, but a budget that has far reaching positive impact on healthcare sector.

Sanjay Bhutani, Director, Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI)
A 5% cess on custom duties for import has been imposed on medical devices in the budget today which will increase the cost of the imported medical devices. Ultimately patients will bear this cost and affordability will  decrease. This is against the basic ethos of PMJAY wherein government wants to provide affordable healthcare for all. This is a retrograde measure and goes against the global companies which provide more than 80% of the critical care medical devices as well as the patient who gets exposed to the danger of smuggling of these low bulk and high value devices, without service & legal guarantees from neighbouring countries where the tariffs are already lower.
The domestic self-sufficiency argument of the government also needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We do hope the government has not looked at the classes of products on which it plans to impose this cess, monolithically. As many sub categories of these classes would not be manufactured in India at all.

Dr Prasanna Deshpande
Deputy Managing Director
Indian Immunologicals Limited

The allocation of INR 69,000 Crore for healthcare and opening of hospitals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities are certainly positive steps in ensuring better healthcare.

It is encouraging to see the government’s thrust on launching campaigns to eliminate animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis by 2025. This ambitious goal will help in improving animal health in the country and increase livestock productivity. The proposal to expand the coverage of artificial insemination to 70 percent from 30 percent will also assist in increasing livestock productivity and benefit farmers. The seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, setting up of Kisan Rail through PPP model for the transportation of the perishable goods (like milk) will help the dairy farmers to supply their produce more quickly and help to increase their income.

The proposed steps will be an opportunity to improve animal health in our country and will help in increasing farmers’ income.

Ameera Shah, Promoter & MD, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd

There are two good highlights of the budget for the corporate sector. Hundred percent tax emption for sovereign wealth funds for their investments in the infrastructure sector is expected to give a boost to the infra investments in India.

The tax dispute settlement scheme is a positive move that has the potential for quick fund infusion into Government coffers before March-end. There are also several welcome measures to give the start-up sector a big boost. With the tax changes for the middle class, the already complex tax framework has become even more complicated.
The budget did not provide much relief for the healthcare sector. The increase in overall outlay to Rs 69,000 crore, up from Rs 62,659 crore last year, is clearly inadequate considering the health challenges facing the country and the stated goal of turning India into a caring society.

The viability gap funding window for setting up hospitals in 112 aspirational districts and establishing medical colleges in district hospitals are significant steps to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. The focus on wellness and preventive healthcare is encouraging. The initiatives announced, such as Rs 35,600 crore for nutrition-related programmes, will help reduce the disease burden and improve maternal mortality rate over the long term.

With respect to the scheme related to medical devices, unfortunately, we still do not have the indigenous capability to manufacture high-quality devices here in India and thus by imposing cess, it will ultimately make healthcare services more expensive.
Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), Editor-in-Chief IJCP Group and Medtalks.in

Among the huge expectations surrounding the union budget 2020, there have been some good measures taken by the government. The finance ministry has proposed INR Rs 8,000 crore outlay over 5 years for the National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application. The allocation of INR Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector comes at a time when emphasis on this segment is pertinent. With a holistic vision of healthcare, Mission Indradhanush has been extended to cover new diseases and vaccines. This is a good move considering the rise in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and new epidemics. The PPP mode hospitals to be set up in 112 aspirational districts is also a welcome step. Access to quality and affordable healthcare is the need of the hour and expansion of the Jan Aushadhi Kendras in all districts of country will help achieve this.

The government also aims to strengthen the TB Harega, Desh Jeetega campaign to end the prevalence of the condition by 2025. Air, water, and sanitation are three issues which need immediate attention in the country. We are happy to see that allocation towards all three has been adequate and that provision of clean air is one of the primary motives of the government.

There is a shortage of qualified medical doctors both general practitioners and specialists; it is proposed to attach a medical college to a district hospital in PPP mode. This is also a positive budget for the medical devices industry. The imports of medical devices will be taxed to fund capacity building in healthcare delivery. This will have the twin advantage of accelerating manufacturing of medical devices and addressing the national healthcare security concerns.