Delhi to implement Centre’s Ayushman Bharat health scheme alongside its ownUpdated: Mar 23, 2020 23:25 IST
After vehemently refusing to implement the Central government’s health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, for more than 1.5 years, Delhi finance minister Manish Sisodia Monday announced that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government would roll out the programme in Delhi.
The AAP said that the decision was taken after the Central government agreed to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s condition of allowing both, the Central and the AAP governments’, health schemes to stay simultaneously applicable in Delhi.
Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s deputy chief minister, made the announcement as the AAP government presented its first budget after a landslide victory in the February 8 assembly elections. “The Delhi government will implement the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana in Delhi in 2020-21 to provide health insurance cover up to ₹5 lakh per family every year,” Sisodia told the House.
All this while, especially during the AAP’s campaign for the recently concluded Assembly elections, AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Kejriwal had refused to implement the Central scheme calling it “limited in scope” when compared to the Delhi government’s health scheme.
“Earlier, it was an either-or situation for us, wherein the Centre had stated that only the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be applicable if the state government implements it. This was an inbuilt condition put on us. Now, the Centre has agreed to our proposal to allow both the schemes to operate concurrently. So, now people of Delhi will get to avail the Ayushman Bharat scheme as well as the Delhi government’s programme as a top up,” said Raghav Chadha, AAP spokesperson and MLA from Rajendra Nagar.
The Ayushman Bharat, or the national health protection scheme, was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2018. It covers over 10 crore vulnerable families—approximately 50 crore beneficiaries—and provides health cover up to ₹5 lakh per family per year. The programme also allows a beneficiary to take cashless benefits from any public or private empanelled hospital across the country.
Responding to Sisodia’s announcement, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said the AAP government should have implemented the Ayushman Bharat scheme much earlier.
“It’s ok if they have decided to implement it now. There was no point of opposing Centre’s schemes just because they are in opposition. The AAP government should also release the funds due for the three municipal corporations and provide some additional funds to the MCDs to fight coronavirus spread. The civic bodies don’t even have money to buy masks,” Tiwari said.
Earlier, Kejriwal had told the Centre that the Delhi government’s health scheme “is 10 times bigger and more comprehensive than Ayushman Bharat”.
“Ayushman Bharat considers only 10% residents as beneficiaries in Delhi while the AAP government’s program covers each of the capital’s 2 crore residents as a beneficiary. Those who earn more than ₹10,000 are not covered under Ayusman Bharat, which means those earning less than minimum wages (notified by Delhi government) are out of this scheme,” Kejriwal had written in a letter to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan.
On Monday, the chief minister also said that beneficiaries get treatment of up to ₹5 lakh under Ayushman Bharat, but there is no such limit under the AAP dispensation’s scheme, and hence, government bears all expenses, even if it is ₹30 lakh.
“Implementing Ayushman Bharat will be beneficial for Delhi; it should be complementary to the Delhi government’s scheme. But the portability under Ayushman Bharat would mean that the Delhi hospitals will be able to earn from the scheme, with around 40% patients coming from outside the city to avail treatment here. If you look at AIIMS-Rishikesh, it is now able to pay the salaries of its staff from the money received under Ayushman Bharat,” said Dr MC Mishra, former director AIIMS.