Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a drastic cutback of an ambitious health care plan after cost estimates came in at $18.5 billion over five years, several government sources said, delaying a promise made in his election manifesto.
Modi has had to make difficult choices to boost economic growth – his government’s first full annual budget, announced last month, ramped up infrastructure spending, leaving less federal funding immediately available for social sectors.
The health ministry developed a draft policy on universal health care in coordination with the prime minister’s office last year. The National Health Assurance Mission aims to provide free drugs, diagnostic services and insurance for serious ailments for India’s 1.2 billion people.
The health ministry proposed rolling out the system from April 2015, and in October projected its cost as $25.5 billion over four years. By the time the project was presented to Modi in January the costs had been pared to 1.16 trillion rupees ($18.5 billion) over five years.
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