While several states have welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, five states, however, have rejected the same. The Prime Minister launched Ayushman Bharat, also called the PM Jan Arogya Yojana, on September 23 in Ranchi. It targets low-income families, particularly those in rural pockets of the country, and aims to cover each family with health insurance amounting up to Rs 5 lakh.
Kerala, Telangana, Odisha, Delhi, and Punjab have announced that they will not implement Ayushman Bharat until their concerns about the same are addressed. Ayushman Bharat has been called the world's largest government-funded universal healthcare coverage programme and is expected to benefit around 50 crore citizens, but these states are skeptical as to whether the PM’s scheme will be more beneficial than the programmes they currently have in place.
At present, 31 states and Union Territories are geared up to incorporate Ayushman Bharat in their state’s healthcare policies. Under the program roughly Rs 10 crore will be allocated to families below the poverty line who will receive coverage of upto Rs 5 lakh.
States like Telangana, however, already have a reliable healthcare program in place and have raised several concerns about the implementation of the Central Programme.
Speaking to TNM, Dr T Narasinga Reddy, Telangana president of the Indian Medical Association, said, “Under the state-run Aarogyasri programme, nearly 85% of the population is covered. The Ayushman Bharat, on the other hand, would only cover only 85 lakh families.”
He further stated that the IMA is concerned about patient safety being compromised under the Ayushman Bharat. “It does not seem rational to deliver high standards at significantly lower costs,” he said.
Telangana Minister for Industry and Commerce, KT Rama Rao took to Twitter to express his displeasure.
“You’re clearly misinformed @AmitShah Ji. The successful Arogya Sri program of Telangana is far superior in terms of coverage (80 lakh families) in comparison to Ayushman Bharat (only 25 lakh families in Telangana) We are a role model state in Universal health coverage,” he wrote.
You’re clearly misinformed @AmitShah Ji. The successful Arogya Sri program of Telangana is far superior in terms of coverage (80 lakh families) in comparison to Ayushman Bharat (only 25 lakh families in Telangana)— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 24, 2018
We are a role model state in Universal health coverage https://t.co/Dv3LtKgpOD
The story is not entirely different in Kerala. State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had expressed his skepticism of the scheme in the past.
“The subsidy ceiling for the current Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna scheme of Rs 30,000 benefit, is now Rs 1,250. The subsidy for the Ayushman Bharat scheme, with benefits of Rs 5 lakh, is Rs 1,110. Is it possible to have such a jump in benefits for a lower premium?” he had said to TNIE.
He also expressed his concern over the feasibility of such a scheme and termed it a “hoax”.
The state was reportedly readying to release its own universal health coverage programme, Karunya Suraksha Paddhati, which sought to cover over 11 lakh citizens of the state. Officials were planning to incorporate several existing schemes into one, to make it easier and more efficient for all to access affordable healthcare in the state.