Outlay for health increased by 1,200 cr

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File Photo)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a marginal increase of Rs 1,200 crore in the health budget compared to what had been announced by her predecessor Piyush Goyal in February, in the interim Budget.

The minister proposed an outlay of Rs 62,659 crore for the Department of Health in 2019-20 as against Rs 61,398 crore earmarked in the interim budget. A lion's share has been allocated to the National Health Mission whose budgetary share rose by nearly Rs 1,400 crore.

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The allocation for the department of health research remains the same at Rs 1,900 crore. The same trend continued for the government's pet scheme of Ayushman Bharat.

The allocation for Prime Minister's Jan Arogya Yojna that promises a family medical insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor and marginalised people remains fixed at Rs 6,400 crore.

The task of setting up of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres, on the other hand, has been allocated Rs 1,600 crore by the minister. In several other centrally-funded schemes like AIDS control programme and mental healthcare programme, the allocation remains the same.

The new Budget of Rs 62,659 crore is nearly 15% higher (Rs 8,300 crore) than the revised expenditure for 2018-19, ie Rs 54,302 crore. Of this Rs 8,300 crore, nearly half (Rs 4,000) is the increased allocation for the PMJAY hospitalisation programme.

The government proposed additional benefits for those opting for medical insurance. “The deduction limit for medical insurance was increased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000. For senior citizens, the deduction limit was increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000,” the Finance Minister said in her tax proposals.

While several leaders of the healthcare industry expressed their dissatisfaction with the budget proposals, an association of medical device manufacturers “expressed deep anguish over continued neglect of the domestic medical devices manufacturers by the government.”

“We at AIMED are shell shocked to see that No action has been taken by the government to stem the tsunami of imports of 24% at 38800 Cr Rs that’s crushing Indian manufacturers," said Rajiv Nath forum coordinator, All India Medical Devices (AiMeD).

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