In a setback to the Modi government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS), two of the BJP-ruled states — Rajasthan and Maharashtra — have expressed reluctance to implement the program. According to a government official, the Rajasthan and Maharashtra governments are reluctant in implementing the scheme, as similar projects catering to a much larger population are being run in the states. The AB-NHPS aims at providing a coverage of ₹5 lakh per family annually and benefiting more than 10 crore poor families. The official said that though the Rajasthan government has welcomed the Center’s scheme, “they are not sure how to implement it, as they already have the ongoing Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana, under which cashless healthcare services are provided to around 4.5 crore people”.
“Moreover, the contract with the insurance company goes up till the next year. So, they are thinking of finding a way of how to converge the two schemes so that the ongoing scheme is not disturbed,” the official said. Dr Indu Bhushan, the CEO of Ayushman Bharat, discussed the issue with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Friday. The Maharashtra government has cited lack of funds as the reason for not implementing the scheme. The state government runs Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana, a flagship health insurance scheme, under which 2.2 crore people are provided an insurance cover up to ₹2 lakh. Odisha has already refused to implement the Center’s flagship health program, saying it already has a scheme called Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana with more beneficiaries compared to the AB-NHPS. Two other states — Punjab and Delhi — are yet to come on board and give their approval to the AB-NHPS.
However, despite disagreements, the West Bengal government has agreed to adopt the scheme, the official said. So far, 25 states and UTs have signed MoUs with the Health Ministry for implementing the scheme. Meanwhile, the National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body for implementation of the AB-NHPS, has launched a formal process to empanel public and private hospitals to achieve universal health coverage. The Modi government is eager to roll out the scheme pan India on August 15. The centrally sponsored scheme will target poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational category of urban workers’ families, 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest SECC data, and will cover around 50 crore people. – Daily Pioneer