A forward-thinking budget

Experts analyse the Budget 2020

Amit Kumar Bajaj, Grant Thornton India LLP, Healthcare sector, Budget 2020, Healthcare sector  Budget  2020, Mrudula Phadke, NRHM, UNICEF, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Farhan Pettiwala, AKHAND JYOTI EYE HOSPITAL, TATA Initiative, Ashutosh Niranjan, Sharda Hospital, Amol Naikawadi, JMD, Indus Health Plus, Kanchana TK, OPPI, Union Budget perspective

Amit Kumar Bajaj, Partner, Grant Thornton India LLP

Healthcare sector received much-needed attention in the Budget 2020 to make it more accessible and affordable. TB Harega Desh Jeetega campaign launched to eradicate TB by 2025. Health Cess (customs duty) on import of medical equipment introduced to promote Make in India. The proceeds from this Cess will also be used to create viability gap funding window for setting up hospitals under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Handholding support for pharmaceutical industry among others, for technology upgradations, R&D etc. to promote mid-size companies.

Dr Mrudula Phadke, Sr. Adv. NRHM, UNICEF, Ex-Vice Chancellor, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences 
It is good that more budget is given to nutrition schemes. However, one has to consider inflation and cost of healthy dietetic items to harvest right benefits. Severe acute malnourishment is a composite issue. Severely malnourished children need energy dense nutritious therapeutic food. Also, it is crucial to pay salary of health workers with consistency otherwise mere provision of funds may not give dividends. Nutrition WASH and immunization all need well-devised schemes. 

Farhan Pettiwala, Executive Director & Head Development– India & South Asia, AKHAND JYOTI EYE HOSPITAL (A TATA Initiative)
The Union Budget 2020, we welcome the increase in allocation of 69,000 crore for the health sector with 6,000crore in PMJAY Ayushman Bharat scheme, with special emphasis on viability gap funding for setting up hospitals in the 112 aspirational districts (PAN India). Welcome the announcement on converting existing district hospitals to medical colleges through PPP mode, there is indeed a huge shortage of doctors in poor state districts.

Dr Ashutosh Niranjan, Medical Superintendent, Sharda Hospital
The Budget has focused on implementing major steps to revitalize the healthcare industry and allocation of Rs 69,000 crore will definitely contribute in making India a better place to opt for good quality healthcare facilities. Additionally, the opening of hospitals in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and diversion of proceeds from taxes on medical devices for health infrastructure development in these cities, along with targeted campaigns to eradicate evils like TB are a few other laudable steps. We look forward to collectively building a healthy, robust India.

Amol Naikawadi, JMD, Indus Health Plus
The Union budget 2020 is more of a forward-thinking budget with a holistic vision to accelerate the growth and enhance the well-being of the countrymen. The allocation of  69.000 crore for the healthcare sector; 6400 crores for PM Jan Arogya Yojana is a positive step. The government’s focus on enhancing the reach of hospitals in tier 2 and 3 cities, will further help in providing extensive medical care at district level and reinforce the commitment to universal healthcare for all citizens.

Moreover, by enabling the PPP model, it will encourage private players to come forward for an investment in healthcare. In addition, it will also create job opportunities for the healthcare sector in the country. Apart from this, the government’s step to increase the number of doctors, both general as well as specialists, will strengthen the overall Indian medical ecosystem. This move will also improve the doctors-to-patients ratio in our country.

Kanchana TK, Director General, OPPI
From a healthcare perspective, this Budget is cold. From allocating Rs 65,000 crore for health in FY20, the allocation for FY21 is 67,484, an increase of less than Rs 2,500 crore which translates to less than 4 percent. The allocation for the government’s flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat (Rs 6429 crore) is less than the Rs 6556 crore allocated in FY20.  Patients pay 70 percent of healthcare costs as out-of-pocket expenses. Given the high disease burden from non-communicable diseases which account for 60 percent of the total disease burden, the allocation for healthcare will not even cover inflation for poor patients and their families.

In 2018-19 (FY19) healthcare inflation was 7.2 percent when retail consumer inflation was 4 percent. Healthcare costs accounted for 14 percent to the rural consumer price index (CPI), and 8 percent to urban CPI. From the Union Budget perspective, healthcare doesn’t list high on the list of government’s priorities.
Increasingly, healthcare expenditure is focused largely on disease management rather than hospital care; even for therapies addressing the NCD disease burden, access to the latest medicine, based on the latest science and research as an example for cancer, is crucially important to saving lives and offering a quality of care.

Hopefully, both the central and state governments (the State accounts for three-quarters of public expenditure on healthcare) will review and reconsider the allocations.