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IMA demands UHC with strong public sector investment in the Union Budget 2023-24

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ETHealthWorld    20 January 2023

Indian Medical Association (IMA) advocates universal healthcare (UHC) with significant public sector investment and strategic purchases from the private sector by the government as the Union Budget 2023–24 draws near. The healthcare budget proposal from IMA includes a variety of elements and fund allotment for the sector.

 

Poverty eradication key to building a healthy nation: A cornerstone in the road to a society and a nation′s wellness, according to the IMA, is the alleviation of poverty brought on by catastrophic healthcare costs. The IMA calls on the government of India to promote universal access to health, including adequate water, sanitation, nutrition, and primary education.

 

Tax-based health financing system vital to enhance UHC: The IMA contends that every resident of the nation must have access to the primary, secondary, and tertiary health care services that are required by a tax-based health funding system. IMA also emphasized the importance of citizens being given free services (both inpatient and outpatient care) provided under the UHC system.

 

Need for an increase in capital expenditure on health infra: IMA suggests that instead of one PHC serving 30,000 people for a few hours a day, one PHC with 24x7 services be accessible for every 15,000 people. There must be more FRUs and CHCs established. IMA further suggested that the funds from AB PMJAY should only be utilized for strategic purchases in the private sector and to set up a retainer system; they should not be used to bridge a significant budget shortage for government hospitals.

 

GST and other taxes for healthcare services: The IMA suggests either treating a portion of the overall GST paid by healthcare providers as advance tax or MAT (Minimum Alternative Tax), or lowering the GST they currently pay on equipment or other purchases to 5%. The IMA urges that the government think of healthcare services as having no GST. Additionally, it asks that money collected from government programs like Aayushman Bharat and other state programs be exempt from income tax and TDS.

 

IMA highlighted the recommendations of the 47th GST Council meeting. It recommended on giving healthcare professionals priority funding and access to working cash. The IMA also advised that manufacturers of medical equipment and supplies receive the benefits offered by the "Make in India" program.

 

IMA also reflected the need to safeguard and support small hospitals. In India, the middle class is very prominent in the healthcare industry. The proposal also emphasized the establishment of a special welfare fund for doctors in general and for Covid martyrs, a national-level comprehensive elderly care program with geriatric clinics, daycare centres, and home care facilities, training for care givers, and a special fund allocation to meet the health needs of migrant workers to ensure health services to migrant workers.

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