Healthcare Sector to be accorded 'National Priority' status

New Delhi [India], Jan.26 (ANI): Apex healthcare body-NATHEALTH has recommended that healthcare sector needs to be accorded 'National Priority' status, in order to bridge the infrastructure gap that currently exists in the country and ensure greater access to healthcare.
In its Pre-Budget recommendation recently submitted to the government, NATHEALTH said that though healthcare was included in the harmonized master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors by the Reserve Bank of India in 2012, long term financing options are still not available for healthcare providers.
According a 'Priority Sector' status to healthcare will help in the process of enabling development of innovative long term financing structures for healthcare providers apart from creating an attractive environment for domestic production of medical equipment, devices and consumables while also catalyzing research and development. This will channelize funds from the banking sector to creating necessary healthcare infrastructure and meet societal objectives of the Government of India.
NATHEALTH has also emphasized that there is urgent need for setting up a health infrastructure fund and a medical innovation fund.
"Access to funding by creating a specific fund for healthcare infrastructure and innovation would facilitate access to capital for the industry. These funds would encourage entrepreneurship and newer business models which are the need of the hour for improving access, availability and quality, especially in Tier II, Tier III and rural areas,"Secretary General, NATHEALTH, Anjan Bose elaborated.
The healthcare body has also urged that the Government could explore making health insurance coverage mandatory for all citizens in a phased manner initially covering the organized sector. Employees could be given the option of either paying their ESI contribution or purchasing insurance from any IRDA regulated insurance company.
Some of the other recommendations include:
– Need for a liberalized FDI regime in respect of investments relating to medical education.
-Exempting the healthcare sector from the mat regime under the income tax act.
-Inclusion of hospital as an industrial undertaking under section 72a of the income tax act.
-Introduction of an insurance policy for elders (aged 55 and above) to cover specific health risks arising from vulnerabilities of old age.
-Instituting a healthcare savings fund for all salaried employees similar to the pf scheme which would be tax deductible. (ANI)

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