Reactions to the Union Budget 2017

The Union Budget 2017 evokes a mixed bag of reviews from the healthcare industry

The proposed regulations may result in closure of some units of domestic manufacturing and drive jobs out of India

At AiMeD we are delighted with release of the latest medical devices regulations as separate rule book that is different from pharmaceutical and it has provision of third party certification for low risk medical devices like wheel chairs and syringes etc.

We are thankful to KL Sharma, Joint Secretary, MoH&FW for open mindedly consulting with all stakeholders. But, we are still highly disappointed that the government has lost the opportunity to use these as a Make in India enabler and for ease of doing business by unbundling regulations to achieve maximum governance and minimal government (as has been repeatedly claimed by our honourable PM) as high risk Indian medical devices manufacturers regretfully will now not be covered under professional third-party certification.

The proposed regulations may result in closure of some units of domestic manufacturing and drive jobs out of India as more manufacturers due to high risk, high technology devices will switch to imports. Though there’s a provision for government to seek expert input for inspection this may end up as a double whammy to satisfy the inspector and the expert as we have experienced in joint inspections by state and central teams from Drugs Department.

It is rare for an industry to seek regulations but we do not want regulations of the Inspector Raj or traditional kind. The Industry is consistently seeking voluntary compliance backed by third-party certification from Quality Council of India (QCI) eg ICMED, (to gain respect  for India and trust for Indian medical devices) as an alternative method of compliance to the rules and waiver of Quality Management Systems Audit by CDSCO.Though QCI and Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Electronics and Department of Science & Technology (DST) are supporting us on this but strangely MoH&FW is not responding to our request to recognise ICMED certification even after many consultation meetings as CDSCO is seemingly opposing 100 per cent reforms.

The purpose of regulations is to filter access to unsafe products and ensure patient safety and consumer protection. While these rules will help medical device industry, it  is also disappointing that there’s nothing to penalise pseudo manufacturing by making country of origin as a labelling requirement and ban on second hand imports of medical equipment to safeguard patient from non calibrated equipment. We have been assured that these rules are under the current law and a forth coming medical devices bill will address our concerns.

Let’s hope the government addresses this in the Medical Devices Bill and walks the entire mile – its discrimination if Indian Manufacturers of high risk devices can’t have market access till they prove compliance to rules after a factory inspection but this requirement of factory’s inspection is not mandatory for overseas plants. There’s only a provision to opt for this.

Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD)


Gujarat is fortunate to get the bonanza of an All India Institute of Medical Science

All in all a positive budget with focussed approach on improving lives of a billion plus population. Higher allocation to healthcare and healthcare infrastructure, initiative for tele-medicine and addressing concern of shortage of healthcare professional will ensure better healthcare index. Gujarat is fortunate to get the bonanza of an All India Institute of Medical Science.

Allowing private hospitals to start Diplomate of National Board courses (DNB) and ensuring adequate availability of specialist doctors. This will help strengthen the secondary and tertiary levels of health care and target of creating additional 5,000 post graduate seats and also address the issue of shortage of healthcare professionals. The move to convert 1.5 lakh health sub-centres to Health Wellness Centres will definitely give a big boost to Health for All

Dr Vikram Shah, CMD, Shalby


Assimilating disease information to senior citizen’s Aadhar card is a good way to understand the disease demographics in India

A long waited relief to the rural and lower middle class. With the rising medical cost it was impossible for certain sections of the society to even afford life-saving drugs. It’s a welcome step to reach and penetrate even remote areas with limited healthcare access. Building an efficient healthcare system seems to be high on the agenda for the present government. We need more trained doctors and that too specialists catering to the rural areas, by increasing the additional 5,000 post graduate seats per annum the government has shown its intent to transform the healthcare and its determination to eradicate diseases like Kala Azar, Filariasis, leprosy, measles and tuberculosis (TB) and bring down the infant mortality and maternal mortality is really applaudable. Assimilating disease information to senior citizen’s Aadhar card is a good way to understand the disease demographics in India. I am happy to state that the present budget satisfactorily promises the best to the people. This should garner positive result in the coming days.

Sam Santhosh, Founder and Chairman, MedGenome


The government’s push to strengthen digital infrastructure in the country is a welcome step

The government’s push for strengthening the digital infrastructure in the country is a welcome step which will positively impact all the companies in the digital arena. The proposal to increase allocation for the Bharat Net project to Rs 10,000 crore will go a long way in providing broadband connection to the rural population and enabling them to become a part of digital India.

The announcement to increase the three-year tax holiday for start-ups in the first seven years of their existence against the previous first five years is an encouraging measure. However, as this is only applicable to companies formed after March 31, 2016, startups incorporated prior to it will not benefit from the same. But the government’s move to reduce corporate tax for medium and small enterprises with turnover of up to Rs 50 crore to 25 per cent from the earlier 30 per cent is a big relief for the entire sector as a large chunk fall under the bracket. Overall, it is a positive budget and we are exuberant about the government’s determined focus on creating a digital India.

Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate


This is a positive budget for healthcare as India’s NCD problem is a focus area

This is a positive budget for healthcare as India’s non-communicable disease problem, led by diabetes, obesity and hypertension are a focus area, thanks to what FM Jaitley calls an action plan for poor health. The budget proposal has said that the 1.5 lakh health sub-centres will be transformed into health and wellness centres, and I’m eager to know more about this. Revision in cost of medical devices is a hugely welcome move, as it makes healthcare affordable.

Dr Ramen Goel, Senior Bariatric Surgeon & Director- Center of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals


The budget doesn’t talk about any steps towards incentivising the PPP model.

The Budget 2017-18 presented by FM Arun Jaitely has given the healthcare sector few initiatives that have been in the wish list for long. WHO states that every country needs to have an average of 2.5 doctors per 1,000 people, however, we have a ratio of 0.7 doctors per 1,000. The Governments present focus and attention on closing this gap by introducing 5000 Post Graduate seats every year, and encouraging private and district hospitals to roll out DNB medical courses, strengthening PG teaching in select ESI and municipal corporation hospitals and the commitment to take necessary steps for structural transformation of the regulatory framework of medical education and practice in India, is the kind of support and boost we need to successfully close this gap.

Initiative like the Aadhaar-based health smart cards for senior citizens is commendable. The Rs 500 crore allocation to set up Mahila Shakti Kendras is welcome but the increase in total allocation for women and child welfare from 1.56 to 1.84 lakh crore is not ample. The proposal to transform 1.5 lakh health sub-centres to health wellness centres is virtuous; however, the infrastructure, equipment, staff and other aspects would need to be looked into.

The budget presented today doesn’t talk about any steps towards incentivising the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. There has also been no word on the need to boost health insurance. Even though new initiatives has been announced for healthcare sector, we were expecting a boost to the overall healthcare spends, which currently hovers around 1.5 per cent of GDP – too low considering the population size and too low compared to other developed and developing countries.

I believe that in the coming years, the Indian healthcare can be further improved by taking concrete steps towards public health expenditure, infrastructure and PPP.

Gautam Khanna, CEO, PD Hinduja Hospital & MRC


The budget is once again silent on giving boost to healthcare infrastructure

The much awaited Union Budget 2017-18  on the back of demonetisation has a balanced approach to the healthcare sector. A 27 per cent increase in outlay for healthcare is a positive move by the FM but still misses the 2 per cent of GDP healthcare spend by the Govt.

The reduction in the cost of life-saving drugs and widening the availability of essential drugs is also in the right direction. The announcement of 5000 new PG seats in medicine should have been backed by significant reforms and policy change in medical education.

The budget is once again silent on giving boost to healthcare infrastructure. Like low cost housing, healthcare should have been given infrastructure status.This budget is at best incremental for the healthcare sector and once again misses the much needed reformist attention.

Vishal Bali, Chairman & Co-founder, Medwell Ventures


A smart Aadhar card could be the first step as a Unique Health identifier

“Basic healthcare information on a smart Aadhar card could be the first step as a Unique Health identifier for the country. This will be critical in identifying beneficiaries for the social healthcare insurance programmes being rolled out by the government.”

“A separate set of regulations for medical devices which are currently clubbed with drugs is long overdue. This will encourage further investment, innovation and bring down the cost to the patient”

Dr. Rana Mehta, Healthcare, PwC India


The Union budget focussed on the importance of digital payments across sectors including hospitals

“In Union budget 2017, our honourable FM majorly focused on the importance of digital payments across sectors including hospitals. This will encourage people to pay insurance premium through digital mode. Additionally, it will direct customers to open e-insurance accounts and also help us to settle claims through digital mode. The tax reduction for individuals with income upto Rs 5 lakh will give an opportunity to young tax payers to buy Health Insurance from an early age for themselves and parents. FM’s proposal to amend drug rules to ensure drugs and medical devises are available at affordable prices will definitely lighten the burden on pockets of individuals.

K.G. Krishnamoorthy Rao, MD & CEO, Future Generali India Insurance


Promoting medical education and increasing the seats is a great move in making healthcare available for all

“The Union budget is encouraging and well-balanced, as it brings vast opportunities for improvement in rural healthcare. The focus should have been more on healthcare as a whole since majority of lifestyle diseases are on the rise. The initiatives introduced by the government on making healthcare affordable, available and accessible for masses is surely welcoming. Introduction of aadhar – based smartcards for senior citizen to monitor their health and the aim of eradicating Tuberculosis, shows the way ahead for healthcare sector.

The transformation of health centres into Health Wellness centres is much appreciated, as the time demands that health has to be looked in wellness form. In long term perspective, promoting the medical education in India and increasing the seats is a great move in making healthcare available for all. It’s also good that there is a tax reduction in the tax slab, since majority of middle class people will be relieved from paying more tax, which means there will be more money in the hands of people and they can easily access better healthcare.”

The budget has some positive elements with reductions of the income tax and measures to improve GDP growth. However the healthcare sector has not been given much focus to attain the goal of  Right of Health for all citizens. The NRIs also don’t have much to cheer  except the removal of prior sanction for FDIs The much awaited scheme of Health Insurance for the returning NRIs didn’t find place in the budget.

One of the major areas which will benefit the common man is the decision to make generic medicines more widely available. This will reduce cost of medicines significantly and help the poor people.

The declaration to provide Rs 6000 to women after delivery if they get the child immunized is a very innovative step to help poor people and ensure immunization

The increase in  post graduate seats by 5000 and two new AIIMS will increase the availability of trained specialist doctors.

More of Primary Care Centers in the rural area will help a lot in preventive medical areas. Aadhar-linked health cards with data on their health for senior citizens will ease the worries with easily accessible information in times of emergencies, especially for those senior citizens living alone.

Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Pl


There is a good news for startups as the 3 years profit window has been raised from 5 to 7 years

“From the Health & Wellness companies point of view the two significant proposals are –

1. Upgrading 1.5 lakh primary health centres to Health and Wellness Center which I believe would focus on Chronic Diseases Screening, Care and Management thus reducing burden on Secondary Health Centers.
2. Setting up of Digi Gaons with tele-medicine centres. This would help increasing the reach of tele-health companies to the rural market as well, thus providing quality care to the bottom of pyramid. The other significant proposal is regarding new rules for Medical Devices that we hope would not compromise on quality in view of the reduction of the costs.

Apart from that the expectations of increasing health insurance and preventive health deduction limits have not been met in this year’s budget”.

New initiatives for Startup Growth

“There is a good news for startups as the three years profit window has been raised from five to seven years and also the MAT carry forward has been increased to 15 years from 10 years. Also the reduction of corporate tax to 25 per cent for companies with turnover upto 50 Crores is cheerful.”

Rajesh Mundra, Founder & CEO, Truworth Wellness

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