Healthcare Budget Expectations: A need for focus on Bharat and Rural India

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Medlarge Bureau Top News, COVID-19 Updates

Other than increasing public expenditure on healthcare to at least 2.5% of GDP, the budget should aid in providing healthcare where it is needed the most –Bharat. The focus should be on creating accessible healthcare infrastructure, providing adequate supply of doctors, incentivising quality patient care and creating a digital backbone for the future.

Prateek Ghosal, Chief Strategy Officer, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said that to attract more private sector investment in Tier 2 and 3 cities of India, healthcare should be given Infrastructure status which will enable access to low-cost funding as well as provide tax benefits, further reducing input costs. While during the COVID-19 pandemic, the RBI incentivised liquidity for emergency healthcare services by the extension of credit under priority-sector classification, this move should be made permanent, particularly for projects focused on creating infrastructure in Rural India.

Prateek Ghosal added further that to ensure success of subsidy schemes and Viability Gap Funding under various state and central policies, the overall construct needs to be further streamlined by enabling allocation of capital within specific timelines, supporting not only infrastructure and equipment funding but also manpower and operational funding, providing flexibility in pricing and creating a robust process to channel patients. This will ensure that PPP projects are sustainable in the long run.

“A focused approach on increasing supply of medical professionals as well channeling of doctors to Tier 2 and 3 towns is imperative to support healthcare infrastructure creation. In order to attract private investment for medical colleges, land allotment, subsidies and moratoriums on loans need to be provided. Policies to ensure mandatory rotation of doctors in Tier 2 and 3 cities as well as incentivisation and reallocation support to specialists for both private and public systems can help channel doctors to Bharat. Further, innovative models like Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) schemes that take collective responsibility of patients between specialists in cities and doctors in remote areas can provide greater access to quality care”,  Chief Strategy Officer, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.

Under the National Health Authority, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is laying the foundation for the digital healthcare infrastructure for tomorrow through implementation of Ayushman Bharat Healthcare Account and Universal Healthcare Identification Number  for storage and interoperability of patient records as well as for digital verification of patients at hospitals. However, a significant proportion of population in Bharat also gets treated under other government schemes like ECHS, ESIC, CGHS etc. These schemes should be brought under the NHA’s guidance and a common platform for all government schemes should be created sharing the same digital foundation to enable universal digitization of all systems and processes, he said.