ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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User Charges Onslaught on Public Health Services

Healthcare as a public good should be available free of charge at the point of service delivery. This was the case across India until a flurry of reforms from the early 1990s onwards notified user charges for various health services in public health facilities. Since then, public expenditure on healthcare has seen a decline from a high of 1.5% of gross domestic product in the mid-1980s to a low of 0.7% of GDP in the mid-1990s, recovering to 1.2% of GDP presently. However, out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure has risen dramatically with increased user charges in public health facilities, which leads to further inequities.

The Case for a Parliamentary Budget Office in India

It remains notable that the quality and comprehensiveness of the budget scrutiny process through the debate and the standing committees is weak. Parliamentary scrutiny of public finance is a very important aspect for holding governments accountable to the people. Strengthening Parliament’s oversight apparatus calls for proper attention and requires a thorough overhaul. Establishing a Parliamentary Budget Office, an independent and impartial body linked directly to Parliament, is a fitting response to this concern.

Is NITI Aayog Even Thinking about Health?

The NITI Aayog has effectively stalled the finalisation and tabling of the National Health Policy 2015 in Parliament. The document, including the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare's report, should be revived to put forth a concrete plan for transforming the healthcare system in India.

Saving the Employees' State Insurance Scheme

The central government seems to be moving towards dismantling the most important social health insurance programme for the organised sector working classes, the Employees' State Insurance Scheme. The government is extending health benefits to the unorganised sector through targeted and restricted schemes using the route of private health insurance, but all these efforts fail to have the intended impact and end up benefiting the private hospitals and the insurance companies. Serious efforts must be made to iron out the design defect in the Employees' State Insurance Scheme and universalise it.

Budget Transparency and Participation

In a formal sense, the Government of India provides considerable transparency in the budget process, but in a substantive sense, public participation is very limited. The Fourteenth Finance Commission has the opportunity to recommend true budget transparency, accountability and participation.

Manorama Savur (1927-2014)

The research work of Manorama Savur, sociologist and labour studies scholar, had significant policy implications. In a long teaching career she taught students to strike out intellectually on their own, a legacy they continue to follow even now.

Budgeting for Food, Education and Health Rights

Privatising Schools

Anand Teltumbde’s article “Keep Off Education” (EPW, 8 June 2013) on the proposed privatisation of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools is important because education cannot be left to the private sector; certainly not in the right to education (RTE) context. Education is a public good...

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