Having just rolled out the world’s largest state-funded health insurance programme, the government, in its last Budget before Lok Sabha polls, steered clear of any big-ticket announcement in health. Instead, it chose to underscore where its priorities lie by nearly trebling the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) budget.
From Rs 2,400 crore last year, the PMJAY budget went up to Rs 6,400 crore; however, last year’s allocation was in effect only for half year as the scheme rolled out on September 23, 2018. In contrast, allocation for National Health Mission, the flagship from UPA era, went up marginally from Rs 30,129 crore in last year’s budget to Rs 31,745 crore. Included in that is Rs 1,598 crore, in two tranches under the urban and rural health missions, for health and wellness centres — the preventive health arm of the NDA’s flagship health programme Ayushman Bharat of which PMJAY is a part. Last year, the allocation for health and wellness centres was approximately Rs 1,200 crore.
On the other hand, PMJAY, which aimed to reach 50 crore people, has, in the last four months, reached about 1 crore families — at an average family size of five people, that is about one-tenth of the target audience so far. The budget for department of health research has gone up by just Rs 100 crore to Rs 1900 crore. The overall budget for health went up by about Rs 8,598 crore, to Rs 61,398 crore.
In his speech, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said, “The past five years have seen massive scale-up of healthcare. Earlier, a poor man used to be in dilemma whether to fulfil daily needs of the family or save the life of an ailing member. This situation has deeply pained our Hon’ble Prime Minister. We launched the world’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, to provide medical treatment to nearly 50 crore people. Already, close to 10 lakh patients have benefited from medical treatment which would have cost them Rs 3,000 crore through free treatment made available under the scheme. Lakhs of poor and middle class people are also benefiting from reduction in the prices of essential medicines, cardiac stents and knee implants, and availability of medicines at affordable prices through Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras.”
He added that of the 21 AIIMS — 6 functional, 15 upcoming — 14 have been announced since 2014. “I am happy to announce setting up of new the 22nd AIIMS in Haryana.”
“A healthy India is the Ninth Dimension of our Vision. We will be aiming at (a) healthy society with an environment of health assurance and the support of necessary health infrastructure. Our government has rolled out the Ayushman Bharat scheme. By 2030, we will work towards a distress-free healthcare and a functional and comprehensive wellness system for all. Such a healthy India built with the participation of women having equal rights and concern for their safety and empowerment,” Goyal said.