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Health allocation up 20 pc
Now, pay more for treatment at private hospitals
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

n PGI Chandigarh has got the maximum budgetary hike today - from Rs 90 crore to 140 crore; AIIMS got Rs 412 crore as against Rs 400 crore in the current year
n Allocation for mental health down from Rs 110 crore to 103 crore
n Allocation for contraception down (from 358 to Rs 298 crore).
n Allocation for pulse polio programme down from Rs 1,017 crore to Rs 663 crore
n Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana will be extended to cover workers of the unorganized sector.

New Delhi, February 28
The government today announced 20 per cent increase in the Budget allocation for the health sector. The allocation for the fiscal year 2011-12 would be Rs 26,760 crore as against the current year allocation of Rs 22, 300 crore.

This marks an increase of Rs 4,460 crore which is more than the comparative increase of Rs 2,266 crore which was seen in the Budget of current year. The health sector allocation has increased from Rs Rs 22, 300 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 26,760 crore this year.

As a percentage of the GDP, the public spending on health remains a dismal 0.29 per cent. The projected GDP for 2011-12 is Rs 8,98,0860 crore. To that extent, the budgetary support for health is poor, with experts demanding a significant raise in government expenditure.

Homeopathic medicines become cheaper as the customs duty on lactose used in their manufacture has been reduced from 25 per cent to 10. Outright concession has been given to factory-built ambulances in place of the existing refund based concession from excise duty.

Besides, treatment at all air conditioned private hospitals with over 25 beds would be costlier as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced: I imposed service tax in 2010-11 on health check ups. This caused differential treatment between persons who pay themselves and others where payments are made by insurance companies or a business entity. I therefore propose to replace it with a tax on all services provided by hospitals with 25 or more beds that have the facility of central air conditioning. Though the tax is on high-end treatment, I sweeten the pill by an abatement of 50 per cent so that the actual burden is kept at 5 per cent of the value of the service. This levy has been extended to all diagnostic services as well.

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