The Chhattisgarh government is working on a plan towards “universal healthcare” that will include free medicare and free diagnostics, and focus on upgradation of public health infrastructure, state Health Minister T S Singhdeo has said.
While the modalities are being worked out, this will eventually lead to a pullout by the state government from the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme, “ he added.
Speaking to The Indian Express about plans and assessments carried out so far, Singhdeo said, “Healthcare is an issue that concerns people’s lives and it does not do well to be flippant about it. We are committed to the idea of pulling out of Ayushman Bharat, not because of politics but because it does not make sense for the state. We will move towards a Universal Healthcare Programme for the state. But we do not want to, unlike the BJP, impose our idea of healthcare until we get our groundwork, and till then Ayushman Bharat may remain. There are discussions to be had on it.”
Singhdeo said that several meetings with state officials had revealed the need for focus on primary healthcare. “About 75-80 per cent of the population needs primary healthcare first. PHCs and CHCs need to be sorted out, including human resources. The other 15 per cent require secondary healthcare, for which a small percentage may require operations, for which the insurance may apply. Ayushman Bharat essentially caters to 5 per cent of tertiary healthcare where people need to be admitted to hospital to avail the benefits of insurance cover. The premium is Rs 1,100, for which the state pays Rs 440, and in Chhattisgarh it applies to 42 lakh people. That is massive expenditure on private insurance companies, where the model doesn’t apply to majority of
He added, “Assessments show that the scheme doesn’t work for primary care… It is absurd that you don’t fix the basics, but give money for insurance companies.”
The BJP, meanwhile, has been critical of suggestions that Chhattisgarh will pull out of the scheme, with former CM Raman Singh saying that the Congress should not be hasty in making decisions, and calling Ayushman Bharat one of the “best schemes in the world.”
Under the Congress government’s healthcare scheme, Singhdeo said, they were looking at “free medicare” and “free diagnostics” as well.