Health push in budget may outdo Obamacare

Tags: News

Focus on preventive care, telemedicine, R&D

Health push in budget  may outdo Obamacare
The Narendra Modi government’s first budget is likely to have a lot of healthy ideas.

The budget to be presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley next Thursday is expected to place health management ahe-ad of health insurance and cost modification, and pr-ovide fresh impetus to healthcare reforms with a focus on health assurance, preventive healthcare, innovative solutions and research & development.

The new policy will go a step beyond Obamacare — US president Barack Obama’s universal health insurance programme provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and spell out specific action plans targeting those below poverty line, who do not have ready access to affordable healthcare.

Obamacare aims to provide health insurance to all. But the Modi government is toying with the idea of assured comprehensive heal­thcare services at government as well as private hospitals and by others, including charities.

“Preventive healthcare and health assurance are the way ahead,” prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Tuesday. These assured services will be available for the lifetime against fixed-term health insurance plans that insurers offer.

Based on the ideas mooted by Modi, health minister Harsh Vardhan is working on a new healthcare policy framework to be rolled out three months from now. The government will push the use of technology — especially satellite-linked healthcare services — to ensure wider reach, especially in the villages and hinterland.

Apart from drawing a roadmap to provide assured healthcare services to all by 2020, the Centre will also consider fiscal incentives to encourage domestic manufacture of high-end healthcare equipment.

“The idea is to turn India into an exporter of he­a­lthcare equipment thro­u­gh research and innovati­on,” said an official clued into the work on the policy.

The government will also roll out a comprehensive strategy to brand Indian healthcare and market the country as a provider of affordable and dependable healthcare services for global customers. Arun Jaitley and Harsh Vardhan have been asked to work out a plan on this.

Besides the push for innovation and R&D, tele-medicine and remote healthcare services will be the other aspects of the new policy framework.

A massive training programme for healthcare professionals, especially midwives and nurses, to cater to domestic as well as global markets will be initiated, the official quoted above told FC.

Fund allocation for the health and family welfare sector is likely to increase substantially in the budget from the Rs 33,725 crore proposed by the UPA government in the interim budget.

The scope of the research funding organisation proposed in its interim budget will be widened to cover healthcare. The new policy framework will allow Indian doctors settled abroad to practise back home for a particular timeframe. The Medical Council of India will clear the formalities within two weeks for such qualified doctors to provide specialised services in India.

Globally renowned doctors of Indian origin will also be encouraged to undertake teaching assignments back home, share knowledge through tele-medicine, provide expertise on fighting diseases and help evolve a model for the primary healthcare centres.

“Prime minister Modi is committed to providing assured healthcare services to every woman and child for free, create enough doctors, make hospitals cleaner and promote generic medicines and a rational drug policy framework,” the aforementioned official said.

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