Modi Rolls Out 'Biggest Health Scheme' Ayushman Bharat as Five Non-NDA States Refuse to Comply
Ranchi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the ambitious Ayushman Bharat health scheme aimed at providing Rs 5 lakh medical coverage to 50 crore Indians, politics over the “biggest health scheme in the world” played out across states on Sunday.
Five states ruled by non-NDA parties refused to implement the programme as PM Modi hit out at opposition parties, including Congress.
Telangana, Delhi, Odisha, Kerala and Punjab have turned down the mega health scheme of the Modi government, which has not gone down too well with the Centre.
Despite the bonhomie between PM Modi and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, the Prime Minister on Sunday took the Odisha party by surprise when he launched an attack against Patnaik for ignoring a health scheme that would have benefited his state.
The BJD, too, hit back at PM Modi, saying this was not expected of him after the support they showed him.
AAP chief Arvind Kerjriwal also launched an attack on PM Modi’s scheme saying it is nothing but a ‘PR exercise’.
Telangana has also not joined the government programme 'as of now' and would continue to implement its health scheme, official sources said.
PM Modi rolled out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)-Ayushman Bharat in Ranchi on Sunday and termed it a "game-changer initiative to serve the poor".
The health scheme came into effect on Sunday.
"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 taken together," Modi said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, he said the previous governments had indulged in "vote-bank politics" without empowering the poor.
"We have been listening to the garibi hatao (get rid of poverty) slogan, but it was just an attempt to hoodwink the poor. If the (welfare) schemes were implemented, as promised, the poor in the country would have been better off today," the prime minister said.
The erstwhile government did not realise that the poor have self-respect and dignity, Modi claimed.
"I have seen and lived the life of a poor, so I know the importance of self-respect and dignity in their lives. I am trying my best to fulfill their dreams and protect their dignity. It is the BJP government that is focused on empowering them (poor people)," he said.
The magnitude of the Ayushman Bharat scheme could be gauged from the fact that more than 1,300 ailments are covered under it, including heart diseases, kidney and liver disorders and diabetes, the prime minister said.
"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.
Iterating the slogan "Sabka saath, sabka vikas" (together for all, development for all), Modi said the health cover does not discriminate on communal or caste lines.
"The programme will not differentiate between people, based on religion, caste, location. Every eligible person will be able to avail of the benefits," he asserted.
Congratulating the team that was instrumental in the programme's implementation, he said the officials would receive the blessings of 50 crore beneficiaries.
"I hope and pray that the poor don't have to visit hospitals, but, if they do, the Ayushman cover will be at their service. The poor of my country must get all facilities that the rich enjoy," he said.
The ambitious Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to provide coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 50 crore people for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of empanelled health care providers.
The health scheme will set an example for countries across the world, Modi said.
"One does not need to register for the initiative. A health card would be provided to the beneficiaries for availing of the benefits. A toll-free number will also be made available to the people for finding out more about the scheme," he explained.
Modi also said 2,500 modern hospitals would come up in tier-II and tier-III cities and would generate employment opportunities.
"A total of 13,000 hospitals have become a part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Our government has taken a holistic approach to lay stress on affordable and preventive healthcare," he said.
Quoting party ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the prime minister said "good health was an investment just as good education" for the future of the country.