Budget 2019 expectations: Healthcare sector wants FDI relaxation for E-pharmacy, GST cut on medicines
With Budget 2019 just 10 days away, the healthcare sector hopes for a bigger announcement from Modi government.
Budget 2019: The Budget 2018 had promised so much for the healthcare sector and yet, had left them asking for more. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced two new initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat Programme - new flagship National Health Protection Scheme and the creation of health and wellness centres. The NHP was aimed at providing a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh a family per annum and was expected to benefit 10 crore vulnerable families, with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries. The health and wellness centres, on the other hand, was aimed to bring healthcare closer to home.
Despite these big announcements, the sector was left begging for more as the allocation for health grew just by 5 per cent from Rs 50,079.6 crore in 2017/18 to Rs 52,800 crore in 2018/19. With Budget 2019 just 10 days away, the healthcare sector hopes for a bigger announcement from Modi government.
Saurabh Agarwal, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Medlife told Zee Business Online that the sector expects some defined policies this year. Among major expectations are: FDI relaxation in E-pharmacy sector, recognition of E-pharmacy under Drugs & Cosmetics Act and relaxation on GST rate on Medicines.
The industry is hopeful as this is the last budget by the current government ahead of 2019 general election and positive policies would make healthcare more simple, affordable and accessible to common people.
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"After implementing the focused life coverage and personal accident coverage through banking sector along with initiation of Ayushman Bharat for hospitalization need of common man, we are looking forward for enhance coverage of health protection scheme to build a robust OPD healthcare environment in the country," Agarwal added.
Meanwhile, Anand Subra, Chief Knowledge Officer, PurpleTeal, Inc told Zee Business Online that the budget should also target the rural population and initiatives that target school children should receive funding.
"The urban population is aware of health issues due to dietary habits, but not to the point of taking positive or remedial action – they continue to order out, gorge themselves, put on weight and develop health problems. Only when faced with an imminent threat do people stop and change. Accepting that the adult population is otherwise difficult to change… we have a better chance of improving eating patterns if we start with school children," he said. "Change the children… and they will even change their parents!”
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