Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)-Ayushman Bharat from Ranchi in Jharkhand. Describing the initiative as a "game changer", Modi said the scheme was a step towards serving the poor of the country and would come into effect from Sunday.
"People are calling the scheme ModiCare and by other names, but for me, it is an opportunity to serve the poor. Even the ones living in the lowest strata of the society will benefit from the scheme," he said. The prime minister also congratulated the team of experts that was instrumental in implementing the scheme.
"PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat is the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world. The number of beneficiaries is almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and the US together," Modi said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, he said that without empowering the poor, the previous governments had indulged in "vote-bank politics".
"The previous governments' schemes were guided by vote-bank politics, with the beneficiaries selected on the basis of potential voters for them. But we strive for the empowerment of the poor. We believe in inclusive growth. The scheme is not aimed at benefiting a particular region, or community, or caste. It is for all, for the poorest of the poor. The poor don't want freebies; they have self-respect and seek empowerment," the prime minister said.
"I hope and pray that the poor don't have to visit hospitals, but if they do, the Ayushman Bharat cover will be at their service. The poor of my country must get all facilities that the rich enjoy," Modi said.
Reiterating the Bharatiya Janata Party's oft repeated slogan "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" (together for all, development for all), Modi said that the Ayushman Bharat scheme is not based on any communal or caste lines. "The programme will not differentiate between people based on religion, caste or location. Every eligible person will be able to avail of the benefits," he asserted, adding that the health scheme will set an example for countries worldwide.
"No one needs to register for the initiative. A health card will be provided to the beneficiaries to avail of the benefits. A toll-free number will be made available to find out more about the scheme," he said.
Modi also said that 2,500 modern hospitals will come up in Tier-II and Tier-III cities and will generate employment opportunities.
"A total of 13,000 hospitals have become part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Our government has taken a holistic approach to lay stress on affordable and preventive healthcare," he added.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister doled out token health cards to some of the beneficiaries after his arrival at Prabhat Tara Maidan in Ranchi.
He also laid the foundations stones of two medical colleges at Chaibasa and Koderma in Jharkhand. Governor Draupadi Murmu, Chief Minister Raghubar Das and Union ministers JP Nadda and Jayant Sinha were present on the occasion.
Features of the scheme
The scheme will provide a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of Empanelled Health Care Providers (EHCP). The EHCP network will provide beneficiaries cashless and paperless access to services at both public and private hospitals. The services will include 1,350 procedures covering both pre and post-hospitalisation expenses, diagnostics and medicines.
Ayushman Bharat has two components — creation of 1,50,000 health and wellness centres, which will provide Comprehensive Primary Health Care, and the PMJAY, which provides health protection cover to poor and vulnerable families for secondary and tertiary care.
PMJAY primarily targets the poor, deprived rural families and an identified occupational category of urban workers' families as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census data for both rural and urban areas as well as the active families under the Rashtriya Swasthya BimaYojana.
The objectives of the scheme are to reduce out-of-pocket hospitalisation expenses, fulfil unmet needs and improve access of identified families to quality inpatient care and daycare surgeries.
Ayushman Bharat allows states enough flexibility in terms of packages, procedures, scheme design, entitlements as well as other guidelines while ensuring that key benefits of portability and fraud detection are ensured at a national level.
States have the option to use an existing trust/society or set up a new trust/society to implement the scheme as a state health agency and will be free to choose the modalities for implementation.
A pilot launch of the scheme has already started in around 22 states and Union Territories, and so far, 30 states and Union Territories have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and started working on the implementation of the mission.
BJP leaders hail Ayushman Bharat
Hailing the launch of the ambitious health insurance scheme as historic, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday said the government has given the poor the right to live with dignity with its various initiatives. He said the poor are at the centre of the Modi government's projects, which has also launched a scheme to provide them homes besides offering other facilities.
Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb said the scheme will further endeavours towards achieving Modi's vision of a "New India".
— Biplab Kumar Deb (@BjpBiplab) September 23, 2018
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said India is entering a "new era of healthcare".
Today we are entering a new era of healthcare! Before this, USA’s #ObamaCare was the biggest scheme covering 10 crore citizens. BUT our #ModiCare #AyushmanBharat caters healthcare facilities to over 50 crore citizens which makes it world’s greatest one! pic.twitter.com/157E71GBHN — Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) September 23, 2018
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the healthcare scheme will go a long way in "building an Ayushman Bharat".
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) September 23, 2018
Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched the scheme in Lucknow and said that it will prove to be a "Modi kawach" (Modi shield) for the poor. "Today is a historic day for the country. The scheme will prove to be a 'Modi kawach' for the poor and will be highly beneficial for them," Singh said at a programme.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 23, 2018 16:26 PM