Pre-Budget Expectations 2024-25 for Healthcare Sector: HCG Manavata Cancer Centre
Over the past few years, Government-run schemes, both at the Central and State levels, have gained popularity, such as Ayushman Bharat Yojana or in Maharashtra, the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. However, the packages offered for healthcare services under the schemes are quite meagre and insufficient to sustain and enhance quality healthcare initiatives. When these packages were initially designed, the intention was to utilize around 10 to 15 per cent of the under utilized or unutilized beds to assist the needy or deserving members of society. However, with almost 100 per cent of the population now covered by the scheme, providing quality services at the pre-decided cost by the Government-run schemes is practically impossible. Forget about delivering quality care; we cannot even provide the basic minimum required care. So, we request the Government to increase the cost limit of the package so that expected quality of healthcare can be provided to the patients.
The second challenge revolves around the GST benefit and input credit. In healthcare, where technology plays a crucial role in providing quality healthcare, several high-end technological equipment and devices are imported. The significant impact of GST on expenditures, particularly in items deemed luxury goods, poses a challenge. For example, air conditioning, considered a luxury item, attracts higher GST. Yet, in the hospital sector, especially in operation theatres, path labs, and CT and MRI machines, air conditioning is an integral and significant part of the technology. It’s not a luxury but a necessity. Hence, hospitals should receive some input credit benefits to alleviate the impact of GST.
Strengthening the healthcare value chain is crucial, particularly in rural areas where a significant portion is still deprived of quality healthcare. To achieve this, an increase in healthcare spending is essential. The current budget allocation stands at a meagre 1.6 to 1.8 per cent. It is suggested that we raise it to 2.5 or 3 per cent of the present budget to make a meaningful impact.
Medical value tourism is gaining traction, and India has the potential to be a major player in this sector. Government support will enhance this aspect of healthcare, bringing in foreign revenue while also improving the scenario for Indian doctors and hospitals. This, in turn, will enable us to provide quality healthcare at a more affordable cost and with greater efficiency, empathy and compassion compared to our Western counterparts.
– Dr Raj Nagarkar, MD & Chief of Surgical Oncology & Robotic Services, HCG Manavata Cancer Centre (HCGMCC)