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'Healthcare has finally taken centre stage in Budget'

By Super

Plans to launch new health protection scheme and making quality medicines available at affordable prices with plans to launch 3,000 Jan Aushadhi stores proposed in the Budget will help more people in getting access to proper healthcare, say industry players.

Reacting to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's proposals in the Budget 2016-17, Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy said: "Healthcare has finally taken the centre stage in the Budget.

'Healthcare has finally taken centre stage in Budget'
The Health Protection Scheme of Rs 1 lakh to cover unforeseen illness in poor families with an additional Rs 30,000 for senior citizens is a long-awaited and welcome step in deepening access." In addition, the government's plan to add 3,000 pharmacies under the Jan Aushadhi Yojana to provide generic drugs at affordable rates is a commendable move, he added. Expressing similar views, industry body NATHEALTH Secretary General Anjan Bose said: "Higher allocation & spending should boost universal healthcare...15 per cent increase in government spending on the social sectors with focus on healthcare should go a long way in ensuring universal health coverage."

The healthcare industry is, however, concerned since the government has not addressed the issue of recent increase in import duty on medical equipment and devices, Bose said. In budget speech, Jaitley today said that catastrophic health events are the single most important cause of unforeseen out-of-pocket expenditure which pushes lakhs of households below the poverty line every year.

In order to help poor and economically weak families, "the government will launch a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to Rs 1 lakh per family. For senior citizens of age 60 years and above belonging to this category, an additional top-up package up to Rs 30,000 will be provided," Jaitley said.

Hailing the budget proposals, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP Partner on Healthcare Sector Charu Sehgal said: "The announcement of a new universal health Insurance scheme with a coverage of Rs 1 lakh per family and additional Rs 30,000 for the senior citizens towards hospitalisation care is a welcome move." It was a critical need and will have a positive impact on increasing affordability, therefore spurring demand. Increased demand will in turn incentivise supply of healthcare delivery in rural areas, she added. "The budget looked at the healthcare as a key area for inclusive growth, however the focus has majorly been on health cover and palliative care," Omron Healthcare India MD Hisao Masuda said.

On an overall level, the government has introduced measures to ease implementation and development through the PPP model, but there is a need to initiate specific partnerships to upgrade healthcare infrastructure beyond urban areas, he added.


Read more about: union budget 2016
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