Fifteenth Finance Commission’s high level group on health to work with World Bank on recommendations for health sector : 08-07-2020

The 15th Finance Commission’s (FC) high level group (HLG) on health will work with the World Bank (WB) to assist the FC in its recommendations for the health sector, said a release on Tuesday, after an online discussion between the parties.

Given its importance in the context of the pandemic, NK Singh, chairman of the Finance Commission, said for the first time the commission’s final report would contain an entire chapter devoted to healthcare financing.

The Finance Commission called for the meeting in light of the government’s need to reprioritise its health spending and to better understand the issues faced by India’s healthcare sector, as per the release.

It was attended by Junaid Ahmad, country director for India, Muhammad Ali Pate, global director and other World Bank officials, Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, VK Paul, Niti Aayog member and Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat.

According to Ahmad, the states would be central in implementation of any health programs and the World Bank would provide state-wise customised healthcare solutions.

Ahmad advised the Finance Commission to look at healthcare spending from three different perspectives. First, grants to enhance per capita spending, second, block grants for capacity building and finally, performance-based incentives for certain health outcomes, the release said.

Pushing for enhanced combined government expenditure on health, Paul noted that states bore 65% of the health sector spending while the Centre contributed 35%.

According to Bhushan, private hospitals were in need of help as they faced falling revenues and rising costs. He also proposed that health should be made a concurrent subject under both the states’ and the Centre’s jurisdiction.

While the WB approved $1 billion as health-specific support to India in April, the government has also increased its healthcare expenditure.

Additionally, the Cabinet approved the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package totalling Rs 15,000 crore on April 22. This included a range of health measures such as conversion of railway coaches as Covid-19 care centres and untied funds to the districts for emergency response.

Source : Economic Times

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