Not far away from the next general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the schemes launched by the incumbent NDA dispensation at the Centre for their role played in empowering the poor without any prejudice. He named some like Ujjawala, PMAY, Saubhagya, Swachcch Bharat Mission while adding the latest Ayushman Bharat he launched on Sunday from Jharkhand.
The Prime Minister opening his address in local dialect Nagpuri and remembering the land of great sons of the soil remained critical of the previous regimes, particularly of the Congress while alleging those of discriminatory in implementing welfare measures.
“All the schemes we have launched have been empowering to the poor. For the first time any Government is treating the poor not as vote bank based on their caste, religion and regional identity. For the last 40-50 years, the Governments have been using public funds to garner vote bank. We have shunned the path and I don’t want the country to return to that again,” said the Prime Minister after inaugurating the universal health insurance scheme hailed critically as ‘Modicare’.
With the rollout of the Centre’s flagship scheme which has been renamed as PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government aims to provide healthcare facilities to over 10 crore families covering urban and rural poor.
All NDA Chief Ministers launched the scheme from their respective States.
The scheme will become operational from September 25 on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, Niti Aayog member VK Paul said.
The ambitious scheme offers an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh, which will cover 10 crore poor families or almost 50 crore persons. In his Independence Day speech, Modi had announced that while the scheme would initially cover 10 crore poor families as per the socio-economic census of 2011, it will in the coming days also benefit the lower middleclass, middle-class and upper-middle class by way of jobs in the medical sector as new hospitals will open in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The scheme can be a big game-changer for Modi as it comes about half a year before the next Lok Sabha elections.
The scheme is targeted at poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational categories of urban workers’ families. So, if we were to go by the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data, 8.03 crore families in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas will be entitled to be covered under these scheme, i.e., it will cover around 50 crore people. To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and the elderly), there will be no cap on the family size and age. The scheme will be cashless and paperless at public hospitals and empanelled private hospitals.
Ayushman Bharat may cost the exchequer around Rs 5,000 crore this year because of the time taken to rollout the scheme. The scheme will cost Rs 10,000 crore when it is rolled out across India next year. While this year there are likely to be 8 crore beneficiaries, the target is to cover 10 crore by FY 20.
According to international rating agency Moody’s, Ayushman Bharat is credit positive for insurance companies as it will aide in higher premium growth. “The launch of universal health coverage is credit positive for the country’s insurers because it will help grow health premiums and provide insurers with cross-selling and servicing opportunities,” Moody’s said in a report last month.
The PM also laid foundation stone for two medical colleges at Koderma and Chaibasa, and opened 10 health and wellness centres in Ranchi, Bokaro and Jamshedpur in the presence of about 1 lakh people coming from different parts of the State, including large number of ANMs and para-medicos.
Reiterating the mantra of his Government ‘Sabka Sath-Sabka Vikas’, the PM counted some of the features of the public medical insurance scheme which does not need registration of any kind to get treatment and insurance cover and is almost universal in nature.
“Ayushman Bharat is not for people from any particular caste, region or religion. 50 crore people, more than entire population of the European Union or adding of the US, Canada and Mexico would get this. Over 1,300 diseases have been covered. Not only Government but private hospitals have also been brought in. Persons already affected from any disease can also get free treatment. No discrimination can be done with the residents of other States. It shows our commitment to ‘Sabka Sath-Sabka Vikas’,” said the PM predicting that the model would be a subject of study for the rest of the world and economists.
He further added the Government is working in holistic manner to improve healthcare scenario in the country which was about improved sanitation, quality of drinking water, housing for all and by bringing in more medical facilities in different parts of the country.
Modi on the occasion praised the efforts put in by the team of officials in descending the scheme ‘miraculously’ on ground within six months of the announcement made in the 2018-19 Budget and also a sign of good governance and commitment. 57 lakh families from Jharkhand are to be brought into the net of Rs 5 lakh yearly health insurance.
“The country is progressing rapidly to become ‘Swasthya Bharat’. 2500 new hospitals, most of those in tier-II and tier-III cities would be coming up in the next 3-4 years. Jobs are being created in the form of call centers, para-medics, druggists and startups are coming up in the health sector in big number. We are working in direction of readying one lakh more doctors in 4-5 years to revolutionalise the health sector,” he said referring to Jharkhand which is about to take MBBS seats from existing 350 to 1,200 with five new medical colleges and AIIMS coming up.
The PM nevertheless wished may no one need medical attention of any kind while referring to financial drain the illness causes to poor families. “I pray that no one goes to hospital because I feel the pain of the poor who have to spent major chunk of their savings on treatment. But if that happens, here comes the Ayushman Bharat. Now any poor person can get medical facilities as good as affluent peoples have been getting till now. I grabbed this as opportunity to serve the daridranarayan,” said Modi, criticising the ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogans as hollow.
Also present on the occasion was Union Health Minister JP Nadda who said that the scheme would bring systemic changes into healthcare sector in the country. “India with this has taken a big leap and the entire world is watching with great interest. The scheme has been designed completely as IT-based and digital and without any need of paper work. We are also working on a series of health and wellness centres that would prevent lifestyle diseases and others at primary stages,” said the Minister. The PM on the occasion also declared open 10 such centres in Jharkhand.
PM_4 : A beneficiary of the Ayushman Bharat, Manju Devi, receives Pradhan Mantri Jan Ayog Yojna card from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the launch of the scheme at Prabhat Tara ground in Ranchi on Sunday. Governor Droupadi Murmu, Chief Minister Raghubar Das, Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda are also seen in the picture