Govt to sign pacts with states on Ayushman Bharat

Govt to sign pacts with states on Ayushman Bharat

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare J P Nadda addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

The Union Health Ministry will sign agreements with more than 10 states and Union Territories on Wednesday on the rollout of government's flagship healthcare plan Ayushman Bharat, under which nearly 10 crore families would be provided with Rs 5 lakh health insurance cover each.

While 13 states and Union Territories have already signed a memorandum of understanding with the health ministry to implement the scheme, more states are expected to join this week.

Karnataka is not on the list at the moment. But health ministry officials told DH the new administration in the southern state would join the scheme probably by the end of June. "By June end, we expect around 25 states to sign the MoU," said an official.

The BJP and its allies rule 22 states at the moment. Health Minister J P Nadda on Monday confirmed that the Left-ruled government in Kerala, too, would join the scheme.

There are, however, uncertainties on the inclusion of West Bengal, which runs its own health protection scheme. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is one of the strongest critics of the Modi government.

Delhi, Odisha and Punjab — have also not given any positive response.

Nadda said as many as 1,350 packages would be covered under the Ayushman Bharat's national health protection scheme and 80% of the beneficiaries in rural India have been identified. The IT backbone required to run the ambitious scheme would be ready by July, but the ministry may wait for some more time to roll out the scheme as the IT infrastructure needs to be stabilised.

"The NHPM is not aimed at garnering political dividends, but changing the nation's healthcare landscape," the minister said. The health ministry has initiated discussions with private hospitals that objected to the package rates proposed by the government.

The initiative would eventually become the world's largest healthcare programme as India has the second largest population globally, Nadda said.