NAHEALTH recommends a FY 2021-22 budget that catalyzes investment into healthcare

NATHEALTH in its pre-budget recommendations urges that healthcare recovery should be given priority in 2021 budget, boosting sustainable reforms in the sector in a post COVID world, and moving towards Universal Healthcare Coverage

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New Delhi: Healthcare Federation of India has submitted a comprehensive set of recommendations to the Government for the financial budget 2021-22, with the prime objective to provide economic and structural measures to fast track recovery of the private healthcare sector.
It is important to note that the private health sector has been standing alongside the Government in managing the pandemic, in spite of considerable loss in revenues that it has faced, a situation expected to continue in the foreseeable future, which makes these recommendations very important. With a severe impact on financials, many providers do not have enough reserves to function optimally. As the Government reconsiders measures for overall recovery of the economy, NATHEALTH advocates that the healthcare sector’s resilience, in the frontlines of the fight against COVID will be pivotal for overall turnaround.
Speaking on the submission of the recommendationsMs. Preetha Reddy, President, NATHEALTH & Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals said, “There is an immediate need to provide solutions to the short-term problems caused due to COVID-19 and alongside, address the long-standing gaps in our healthcare system. The objective of these recommendations is to ensure recovery and sustenance of healthcare providers (small, medium, and large) and to drive policy consensus. The path to achieve a holistic goal of universal healthcare, hinges on collaboration where all stakeholders can work in tandem to bridge the vital gaps in service delivery.”
In the short- term recommendations submitted to the Government, NATHEALTH has requested for zero-rating of GST for healthcare services which will not only ensure that the credit chain is intact but also ensure that the input taxes are not loaded into the cost of healthcare services, thus making healthcare more affordable. The Government has been urged to consider extending the exemptions available for the education sector to healthcare. Companies engaged in healthcare services which have un-utilized MAT credit should be allowed to avail the reduced corporate tax regime of 25%. In addition, the Government may also consider 5-year interest-free loans for the sector, which can be facilitated through the banks under priority status assigned to the sector. The recommendations have shed light on the current state of revenues of equipment manufacturers which have been hit by at least 25% and has urged to immediately release 100% Central and State Government dues to the sector including dues to Hospitals. MedTech and Diagnostics sector. Seeing the financial burden on the private healthcare sector due to Covid pressure and escalating costs, the Government may also consider lower TDS for FY21 and FY22.
Dr. Harsh Mahajan, Senior Vice President, NATHEALTH and Founder and Chief Radiologist Mahajan Imaging shares, “Strategic collaborations between the Government and the private health sector can take India’s healthcare system forward in numerous ways. Sustainable, long-term reforms are imperative to mitigate the immediate challenge caused by COVID-19. There is a strong need to scale up national level healthcare schemes and initiatives which can be realized through effective PPP models in the areas of skill development, medical technology, diagnostics and affordable care.”
The long-term recommendations advocate for adoption of a scientific costing and market based fair pricing rather than broad price capping exercises under Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY. The industry body also urges the Government to create a comprehensive medical value travel (MVT) program ‘Heal in India’ to leverage an immense opportunity to become global healthcare destination.
Recognizing the urgent need to address the shortage of healthcare professionals in Tier II and III cities, Private hospitals should be allowed to increase capacity of Diplomate of National Board (DNB) programme to enhance staff capacity. In order to further strengthen India’s digital capabilities, NATHEALTH recommends a strong push for telemedicine, Electronic Urban Primary Health Care Centres (EUPHCs) and E-ICUs in all district level hospitals across the nation under National Digital Health Mission (NDHM).