Budget will take healthcare to rural areas: industry

February 29th, 2008 - 10:33 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, Feb 29 (IANS) The healthcare industry has welcomed the union budget presented Friday, saying it provides an incentive to take quality healthcare to semi-urban and rural areas. “Tax holiday for hospitals outside major cities is a revolutionary step towards making quality healthcare accessible to the common man,” said Prathap C. Reddy, chairman of Apollo Group of Hospitals and chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry’s National Committee on Health.

“Every five-year increase in life expectancy results in a 0.5 percent growth in GDP and this budget gives the nation an impetus for significant improvement in healthcare. All the concessions given to healthcare are thus an incentive for the overall economic development of the nation,” he said in a statement here.

Welcoming income tax exemption for the premium paid for health insurance of parents and the introduction of Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojana (national health insurance scheme), he hoped the move would pave way for universal health insurance in the country.

By providing tax holiday for semi-urban and rural hospitals and with the active promotion of health insurance, the finance minister has ensured increased availability and financial access to quality healthcare for the common man, Reddy said.

He added that increased allocation for health, specifically to the National Rural Health Mission, would have a positive impact on all the health indices of the nation.

Reduction in customs duty on project imports and life-saving drugs and excise duty concessions for the pharma sector are a welcome relief for the sick, he said.

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