The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has set the ball rolling for the implementation of the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious mega health scheme “Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM)”, termed “Modicare” in general, by inviting public and private hospitals for empanelment. The scheme, aimed at universal health coverage, is likely to take off from Independence Day next month. The National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body implementing the scheme, has launched the formal process to empanel public and private hospitals. Under the scheme, the government plans to provide cashless insurance up to Rs 5 lakh per family to 10.74 crore poor families. The empanelment will be done through state empanelment committees in line with the given guidelines, the process for which has started. There will be workshops at the district and block levels to brief the officials on the details of the empanelment criteria. The ministry has called on public and private hospitals to come on board to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Interested hospitals can empanel themselves by visiting the ministry’s web portal.

As of now, 25 states and Union territories have signed agreements with the ministry for the scheme. Rajasthan and Maharashtra are likely to follow suit soon. However, Delhi is yet to give its approval. Odisha, on the other hand, has refused to implement the scheme as it is running a similar “Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana” of its own.

Contrary to some media reports that Rajasthan and Maharashtra are “reluctant” to join the scheme, the two states will soon join the scheme.

Taking note of the reports, the ministry has clarified that “both the states fully support the scheme and are not reluctant to join it”.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said: “Maharashtra is implementing ‘Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPAY)’ since 2012 covering about 2.24 crore families, providing a benefit cover of Rs 1.5 lakh per family per annum. The proposed coverage under Ayushman Bharat is 84 lakh families, whereas Rajasthan is implementing ‘Bhamashah Health Insurance Scheme’ since 2015 covering about 92 lakh families, providing a benefit cover to each family per annum of Rs 30,000 for common diseases and Rs 3 lakh for critical illness.”

“Both states already cover more people than proposed to be covered under Ayushman Bharat. However, the benefit package in terms of health conditions covered and total coverage per family of Rs 5 lakh are larger under Ayushman Bharat. The two states are currently reviewing the financial and operational implications of the convergence with Ayushman Bharat to avoid any disruption of services, and ensure that the convergence can be done efficiently and current legal contracts can be honoured,” the ministry explained.

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