Congress-led Chhattisgarh withdraws from Modi govt’s Ayushman Bharat scheme

Jan 16, 2019

The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has decided to withdraw from the Centre’s flagship universal healthcare scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) or Ayushman Bharat scheme, which was rolled out from the state’s Jangla Development Hub in Bijapur district.

The newly formed government in the state is planning to devise its own universal healthcare scheme which will replace Ayushman Bharat, which was started on September 15 last year.

State health minister TS Singh Deo said, “We have decided to withdraw from the scheme.”

“We don’t understand why we need to operate insurance packages when we have the entire system of medicine purchase, ASHA worker network and primary healthcare centers in place. We have the manpower and are capable of providing universal healthcare,” he added.

The minister when asked whether the move was politically motivated, said that Ayushman Bharat is similar to the UPA’s Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and that they are simply implementing their manifesto promise- universal healthcare scheme.

He also went on to say that Congress had promised ‘right to health’ in its 2014 parliamentary poll manifesto.

The move comes after a series of representations from associations including government doctors, hospital owners, and even beneficiaries.

The state government is now planning to introduce an alternative scheme which covers the poorest of poor, outpatients’ care and expenditure on medicines.

The new healthcare programme is the first central programme which the newly installed state government has spurned.

The newly elected government argues that a new alternative scheme needs to be devised in Chhattisgarh as the central scheme does not address the basic problems of primary healthcare. It is targeted at secondary and tertiary care.

“Almost 85-90% of the patients have waterborne diseases, malnutrition, malaria, typhoid — these are not what Ayushman Bharat addresses,” a source said.

Even before PMJAY was introduced, Chhattisgarh had insurance coverage in the health sector.

The erstwhile Congress-led UPA had introduced Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana for those below the poverty line. The Raman Singh-led BJP government later tweaked the central scheme to introduce Mukhyamantri Swasthya Bima Yojana to include those above poverty lines. However, problems plagued the scheme over the past two years as small nursing homes sprung up in remote centers and the number of patients in government hospitals declined.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh has become the fifth state to say no to PMJAY.

A month before the Centre rolled it out, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik announced the launch of Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana on almost the same lines as the central scheme. Telangana has consistently parried the Centre’s attempts to initiate the scheme.

West Bengal government withdrew from the scheme last week when CM Mamata Banerjee took an exception to PM Narendra Modi’s photographs on letters sent to beneficiaries. The West Bengal government said that with a 60:40 share in the expenditure on the scheme, it should get space on letters sent to beneficiaries.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi has also given a cold shoulder to the scheme.

Source : DNAIndia 

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