Telangana enrolled for the Union government's health scheme by converging the state's Arogyasri scheme with the Union governmentâ€™s Ayushman Bharath scheme. The Telangana state Health Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Health Authority (NHA) converging both schemes on Tuesday. The move allows beneficiaries of the state's Arogyasri scheme to avail COVID-19 treatment through empanelled hospitals under the Ayushman Bharath scheme.
The NHA urged the state to ensure the treatment of patients in empanelled hospitals across the state under the central scheme with immediate effect. Telangana had announced its decision to enrol with the Union governmentâ€™s Ayushman Bharat scheme in December 2020. On Tuesday, RS Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of the NHA directed his counterpart with the Aarogyasri Trust, K Manohar, to ensure treatment is made available to patients under the central scheme across all empanelled hospitals, with immediate effect. COVID-19 treatment was made available free of cost for those enrolled with the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
The state's Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Tuesday directed officials with the Health Department to provide all the government medical services in the state as per the new rules and regulations under the Ayushman Bharat programme. Accordingly, Secretary for Health and Family Welfare SAM Rizvi issued necessary orders to the CEO of the Aarogyasri Healthcare Trust, to ensure the treatment of patients in empanelled hospitals across the State as per the converged scheme of Ayushmaan Bharat-PMJAY-Aarogyasri with immediate effect, read a release from the Chief Ministers Office.
Telangana had dragged its feet for the last two years over enrolling with the Union government scheme. The state government held the view that states own medical health cover scheme Aarogyasri was a better alternative than Ayushman Bharat.
In 2019, referring to the Ayushman Bharat schmee, KCR had stated in the Assembly that the central scheme was not beneficial to people and that the state wasn't interested in wasting public money. While presenting the state budget, KCR had claimed that Arogyasri was more beneficial and had a wider outreach than the Ayushman Bharat scheme and that the government is spending Rs 1,336 crore a year to help 85.34 lakh families.
With Ayushman Bharat, it is possible for the state to provide medical benefits only to the extent of Rs 250 crore a year benefiting only 26 lakh families, he had said. KCR had also claimed that through Arogyasri, the state government is extending services relating to 25 distinct organ transplant procedures free of cost which is not available under Ayushman Bharat scheme.
However, since the start of the pandemic the Telangana government had not brought COVID-19 treatment under the Arogyasri, despite demands. Telangana Network Hospitals Association in 2019 had threatened to stop service under the scheme alleging unpaid dues amounting to Rs 1,500 crore. A part of this money was paid later but the state still owes the hospitals for treatment bills under the scheme.