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Delhi Lt Governor asks Kejriwal to implement Ayushman Bharat

Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj responded by saying the Lt Governor is not aware of the ground realities.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 17:14 IST

New Delhi: Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena has asked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to implement the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme in the national capital, saying its non-implementation is causing suffering to poor patients, Raj Niwas officials said on Sunday.

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj responded by saying the Lt Governor is not aware of the ground realities.

The patient load from the neighbouring BJP-ruled states’ hospitals is comparable to Delhi's hospitals under Ayushman Bharat, he said.

Saxena has recalled the file related to Ayushman Bharat in regard to invoking Rule 19(5) of Transaction of Business Rules and asked the chief minister to implement the scheme at the earliest for the benefit of poorest of the poor, Raj Niwas officials said.

"I am constrained to underline here that an issue as important as the very health of our people seems to have fallen prey to mindless politicking aimed only at one-upmanship and credit grabbing," Saxena said in a file noting.

Saxena, while disposing the file outlined that the government, despite having given in-principle approval for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat scheme way back in 2018 and having announced it even in its budget in 2020, had stalled it.

He also outlined the fact that the waiting list for issue of ration card to the deserving beneficiaries has applicants waiting since 2018. In the absence of such documents, poor sick patients suffering from serious ailments could not avail of health benefits under other available schemes, he said.

Saxena also highlighted the state of public health and government hospitals in Delhi.

"Be it availability of beds, construction of newer hospitals or the availability of diagnostic equipments as basic as CT scan machines and irregularities in the functioning of Mohalla clinics, all these leave much to be desired.

"It goes without saying that GNCTD needs to put its act together, as far as public health is concerned and any hesitation on part of the government in accepting schemes/help on part of the Govt of India, because of extraneous irrelevant reasons, will account for nothing less than playing with the critical issue of health and well-being of the people of Delhi," the LG noted in the file.

Saxena said it would be in the interest of the people of Delhi that the scheme is implemented at the earliest in the national capital.

"Such progressive steps would not only alleviate the financial burden on low-income families and lakhs of migrants but also contribute to the overall well-being and health security of the people of Delhi," Saxena said in the file noting.

The LG stressed that successive health ministers since 2018 - Satyendar Jain, Manish Sisodia and Bharadwaj - on as many as six occasions stalled the file on "flimsy political pretext" despite the fact that their aim of credit seeking had been addressed right in the beginning, with the Government of India clarifying that Ayushman Bharat could be suffixed with any name that the the Delhi government wanted.

In a statement, Delhi minister Bharadwaj said at most of the hospitals in Delhi - especially GTB Hospital, LBS Hospital and Rao Tula Ram Hospital - which are situated either at the border of Uttar Pradesh or Haryana, the patient load from the BJP-ruled neighbouring states is comparable to the patient load from Delhi in these hospitals.

"In certain hospitals like GB Pant Hospital, almost half of the total number of surgeries performed is on patients from states wherein the Ayushman Bharat scheme is operational, like the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. It is very sad to see that though the LG is boasting about the Ayushman Bharat scheme, there is practically no success on the ground," he said.

Bharadwaj said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had recently highlighted many grave discrepancies in the Ayushman Bharat scheme including invalid names, unrealistic dates of birth, duplicate health IDs and unrealistic family sizes in the database of Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).

"The CAG had further reported that ineligible households were found registered as PMJAY beneficiaries and had availed the benefits ranging between Rs 0.12 lakh to Rs 22.44 crore under the scheme," the minister said.

He requested the LG to direct the health secretary to accompany the health minister during the inspections of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

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(Published 25 February 2024, 17:14 IST)

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