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  • Pre- Budget Quotes on Healthcare by Hinduja Hospital & Merck Specialities Pvt Ltd

    Published on January 31, 2022

    Mr. Anand Narasimhan, MD, Merck Specialities Pvt Ltd. 

    ‘The last two years of the pandemic has given us a reality check on the urgent need to build a robust healthcare system. One of the most effective solutions to mitigate the current challenges would be enhancing access to affordable healthcare, that will require building a solid healthcare ecosystem and strong leadership from the pharmaceutical industry. Investment in innovation, infrastructure and R&D would be key parameters for the success of this mission. 

    Increasing the scope of health insurance coverage will help reduce health expenditure by securing a large part of the hospitalization expense. Simultaneously lowering the GST rate on life-saving medicines and pharma drugs would be a welcome move. 

    Further, an upskilled workforce will form the backbone of the pharma sector, ready to cope with any unforeseen challenges. 

    The healthcare sector looks forward to enhanced collaboration with the government to be recognized as a priority sector to deliver high quality and affordable healthcare’.

    Mr. Gautam Khanna,CEO, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC,Co – Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee,President, Association of Hospitals, Mumbai

    Though it is indeed commendable how the Indian Healthcare Industry battled the pandemic, the covid crisis has brought to the forefront the serious inadequacies in our healthcare sector and the urgent need to address the same.

    One of the key objectives in the current scenario should be to invoke a robust and more promising healthcare infrastructure backed by investments to strengthen hospitals, diagnostic labs, and the home care sector.

    Even though the healthcare spends have considerably increased in the last few years, we would still urge the government to increase the healthcare expenditure above 2.5 per cent of the GDP and extend the National Health Protection Scheme to all migrant workers.

    Preventive Health Check-ups should be given greater emphasis, given the fact non communicable diseases will account for 75% of India’s disease burden by 2025. Raising the tax exemption on preventive health checks, expedite setting up and operationalising PHCs announced in the earlier budget, and nutritional emphasis in rural areas are some of the steps that can help achieve this.

    Several hospitals, big and small, have made significant investments to tackle Covid. We would recommend the benefits of section 35 AD of the Act under capital expenditure, which was extended to hospitals with 100 beds or more should be made available to all hospitals from 01.04.2020. This would also encourage setting up of hospitals / nursing homes in smaller towns / rural areas.

    It is also recommended that healthcare industry be treated on par with other industries by bringing it under the definition of Industrial Undertaking under provisions 72 of IT act., which will enable tax losses of healthcare Industry be carried forward and set off against future profits.

    As Healthcare was introduced in the harmonised master list of Infrastructure sub sectors by RBI in 2012, long term financing options (as available to other sectors accorded infrastructure status), should be made available to healthcare also, in some form or the other.

    Keeping the pandemic experiences in mind, thrust must be given to Medical Research, with private and public sector hospitals supporting government bodies like ICMR.

    Healthcare digitalisation has taken a new turn in the pandemic and is the future. As digital technology continues to reform the healthcare industry, policies must ensure that markets remain comprehensive and support access to new and extensive opportunities in this space. This will be beneficial for both the urban and rural population alike

    Mr. Joy Chakraborty,COO, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC

    The healthcare sector has undergone a significant shift in the recent past. Moreover, the pandemic has highlighted the urgency with which our healthcare system in the country needs to be strengthened. Healthcare infrastructure is the backbone, and is critical for a growing country like India.

    While Ayushman Bharat is a great step toward achieving universal healthcare, it should be strengthened so that more poor people get coverage, while at the same time more hospitals must be roped in as partners. Additionally, we need some thought-out incentives and health insurance plans to protect our healthcare workers and their families

    Availability of skilled manpower remains a key challenge. The government should expedite the implementation of setting up of medical colleges announced in the earlier budget. To encourage the private sector to take up workforce skilling activities, the government should consider providing tax incentives for expenses incurred healthcare skill development and tax deduction on stipends to professionals undergoing DNB and PG courses at hospitals.

    To strengthen the private sector’s health infrastructure, the government should consider offering deductions to healthcare providers for capital investments incurred for fighting the pandemic. There needs to be a stronger collaboration between public and private sector to build more primary healthcare infrastructure. The facilities in public sectors hospitals in smaller towns must be upgraded so that they have adequate supplies of oxygen, ventilators etc.

    Digitisation is the future and the National Digital Health Mission has the potential to transform healthcare delivery in the country. It can help solve the problem of quality, affordability and accessibility. To incentive private payers to digitise, tax concessions on investments made in digitisation by private players  like EHR, digital technologies for remote care should be provided.

    The government should encourage entrepreneurship and start-ups with funding and mentoring, to help develop innovative solutions and newer healthcare delivery models, which is the need of the hour.

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