No dearth of money for the scheme’

Indu Bhushan, CEO, Ayushman Bharat

Since he joined Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) as its chief executive officer, Indu Bhushan has maintained a hectic schedule, convincing the states to join the mega medical insurance scheme, notwithstanding the initial reservations that some of them had. From his ninth floor office in the heart of Connaught Place overlooking Central Park, he keeps a close watch on how it is working across the nation using a digital dashboard. A week after the launch of the scheme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhushan spoke to DH’s Kalyan Ray about how it’s going.

In the week since PMJAY was launched by Prime Minister Modi, what has been the response?

Response has been good. Close to 15,000 people from 26 states received the benefits in the first week. Other states are now coming on board.

There are reports of teething troubles faced by the hospitals.

Yes, there are teething problems, specially in the greenfield states, mostly related to training people how to use the software. But they are being sorted out.

One persistent criticism against the scheme is that the government has not allocated adequate money for such an ambitious programme.

The initial budget of Rs 2,000 crore was an indicative budget. Now, we went back to the ministry seeking more resources in the supplementary demands for grants. Resources will not be a problem.

What’s the yearly premium per family?

It varies from state to state. It varies from Rs 440 in Nagaland to about Rs 1,600 in Manipur and Rs 1,700 in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, depending on the market dynamics and offerings from that state. The number of procedures remains same (across India), but the benefit coverage is different. Manipur also includes outpatient (coverage).

How many states are going for the trust model (something similar to the CGHS system), rather than to insurance companies?

Eighteen states. The rest are either private or mixed model.

You still don’t have five major states on board – Kerala, Punjab, Odisha, Delhi and Telangana…

Kerala and Punjab should come on board soon, may be next month. Delhi, Odisha and Telangana will come later. We hope that they will come next year.

You also have lots of issues with the private hospitals, which are not happy with the package rates that you decided.

A lot of them are coming. They are not happy, but still they are willing to come and continue to work with us.

Is it possible for a private hospital to be a part of the scheme even though the state where it is located is not a part of it?

No, that’s not possible. They have to have agreements with the state first on providing the services.

But you signed agreements with All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Those are national institutes for which there are exceptions. We signed such agreements with AIIMS, RML and Safdarjung Hospital.

How long will it take to reach out to all the 10.74 crore families identified as beneficiaries?

A few more months as the cards are being dispatched. Theoretically, we reached all the states, but for practical purposes, it would also need some time as manpower training is going on. Also, states are appointing Ayushman Mitras in every hospital to help the beneficiaries.


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No dearth of money for the scheme’

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