A day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requesting him to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega healthcare scheme Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain has refused to implement it in the city.
Also known as ‘Modicare’, it has been adopted by 33 states and Union Territories while Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi are yet to take a decision. The name of the health scheme has been a bone of contention between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the National Health Authority (NHA). The AAP government had asked the NHA to rename the scheme to Mukhya Mantri Aam Aadmi Swasthya Bima Yojana — Ayushman Bharat in Delhi.
After a surprise visit to Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital Tuesday, Jain criticised the scheme and said that the ruling BJP needs to improve its implementation. Delhi government’s GTB hospital witnesses an average of 7,200-7,500 patients per day in the OPD, out of which a large number are from neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
“The scheme is merely on paper. The central government has implemented it in other states but still, these patients are coming to Delhi government hospitals for treatment. Delhi has a population of over 2 crore and this scheme can benefit only 10 lakh; what is the point of implementing it here? We are not going to implement the scheme, and will rather provide treatment to every patient visiting hospitals. We will not pick and choose,” Jain said.
The healthcare scheme launched by the PM in his Independence Day speech last year has been implemented in five government and 16 private hospitals in the capital. The central government-run hospitals — AIIMS and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) — were among the first institutes to adopt the healthcare scheme.
Taking charge Monday, Harsh Vardhan said he will write to the Chief Ministers of the five states where the scheme has not been implemented. So far, the scheme has benefitted 2,360 patients in the capital.
The NHA, which had earlier decided not to approach the Delhi government after multiple failed attempts, remains hopeful of a solution. “A letter has been sent by the Union Health Minister to the Delhi CM requesting him to join the scheme. They also had a telephonic conversation in which the CM suggested to have a meeting with the NHA. We are hopeful to take the development forward,” Indu Bhushan, CEO of NHA, told The Indian Express.
A Delhi government spokesperson said: “The Chief Minister had a word with the Union Health Minister today over phone in which he told him how the Delhi Healthcare Model was better than Ayushman Bharat. Comparing the two schemes, the CM suggested that the healthcare model of Delhi should be replicated all over India. Ayushman Bharat has a cap of Rs 5 lakhs, but it is totally free in Delhi even if the bill is Rs 15 lakhs.”
BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said: “Once the scheme is implemented in Delhi, residents will have another reason to support Modiji. It is clear that the AAP government doesn’t want to work for Delhi’s people.”
Under the scheme, medical and hospitalisation expenses for almost all secondary care and most tertiary care procedures will be covered. The target is to cover more than 100 million families belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the population.