Two BJP-ruled States resist health plan

In a setback to the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS), two of the BJP-ruled States — Rajasthan and Maharashtra — have expressed “reluctance” to implement the programme.

According to a government official, the Rajasthan and Maharashtra governments are running similar projects catering to a much larger population in their States.

The AB-NHPS is aimed at providing a coverage of Rs. 5 lakh per family annually and benefiting more than 10 crore poor families in the country. The official said though the Rajasthan government has welcomed the Centre’s scheme, “they are not sure how to implement it, as they already have the ongoing Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana, under which cashless health care services are provided to around 4.5 crore people.”

“Moreover, the contract with the insurance company is till next year. So they are thinking of finding a way to converge the two schemes so that the ongoing scheme is not disturbed,” the official said.

The Maharashtra government has cited lack of funds as the reason for not implementing the scheme. The State government already runs the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana, a flagship health insurance scheme, under which 2.2 crore people are provided a cover up to Rs. 2 lakh.

Odisha has already refused to implement the Centre’s flagship health programme, saying it already has the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana with more beneficiaries compared to the AB-NHPS.

Two other States — Punjab and Delhi — are yet to come on board and give their approval to the AB-NHPS. However, despite disagreements, the West Bengal government has agreed to adopt the scheme, the official said.

So far, 25 States and UTs have signed MoUs with the Health Ministry for implementing the scheme. Meanwhile, the National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body for implementation of the AB-NHPS, has launched a formal process to empanel public and private hospitals to achieve universal health coverage.

The Modi government is eager to roll out the scheme across India on August 15.

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