Healthcare sector recovery should be given priority in 2021-22 budget: NATHEALTH
New Delhi: Healthcare Federation of India, NATHEALTH, on Monday said it has urged the government to give priority to the sector’s recovery in the 2021-22 budget and has submitted a set of recommendations for this.
“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, the situation is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, which makes these recommendations very important,” NATHEALTH said.
For the short term, the federation 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, NATHEALTH said in a statement.
The government has also been urged to consider extending the exemptions available for the education sector to healthcare, it added.
“Companies engaged in healthcare services which have un-utilized MAT credit should be allowed to avail the reduced corporate tax regime of 25 per cent,” NATHEALTH said.
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, it added.
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, the statement 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,” NATHEALTH President Preetha Reddy said.
The objective of these recommendations is to ensure recovery and sustenance of healthcare providers (small, medium, and large) and to drive policy consensus, she added.
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, NATHEALTH said.
The government should also create a comprehensive medical value travel (MVT) program ‘Heal in India’ to leverage an immense opportunity to become a global healthcare destination, it added.
“Recognising the urgent need to address the shortage of healthcare professionals in Tier II and III cities, private hospitals should be allowed to increase the capacity of Diplomate of National Board (DNB) programme to enhance staff capacity,” the statement said.
The industry body also asked the government to strengthen India’s digital capabilities.