Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday termed the Delhi government’s claim that its health scheme was “10 times bigger and comprehensive” than the Centre’s flagship Ayushman Bharat programme as “baseless”.
He also asked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to join hands to work for the larger good of the people of the country.
Harsh Vardhan’s comments came a day after Kejriwal in a written communique to the Union Health Minister said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s health scheme was “10 times bigger and comprehensive” than the Ayushman Bharat programme.
“All your fancy schemes, including the much-touted Universal Coverage Health Scheme announced more than a year ago, are still lying on the drawing boards awaiting implementation even after four-and-a-half years. Your ‘Mohalla clinics’ are an utter flop and the drastic neglect of patient care in Delhi government hospitals is there for all to see,” Harsh Vardhan said.
“Be part of the historical health sector revolution that has been visualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ayushman Bharat is the world’s most ambitious and largest free government healthcare programme. Let us join hands to celebrate each milestone in the journey towards New India,” he said.
Harsh Vardhan further stated that while all states can claim to be providing free healthcare through government hospitals, in reality, citizens still have to spend a lot from their pockets to avail the so-called “free treatment”.
“Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) targets almost 30 lakh (15 per cent of the total population) persons in Delhi who are most poor and vulnerable. You have also mentioned that the income criterion of Rs 10,000 per month is less than the minimum wages in Delhi but I want to correct you that this criterion of Rs 10,000 per month was used on data collected in 2011 and therefore, such families which were earning less than Rs 10,000 per month in 2011 are eligible under the scheme,” Harsh Vardhan said.
He further said that the families were identified from SECC data based on specific criteria as per conditions existing in 2011 and therefore these families were most vulnerable and needed special attention.
“You should know that in 2011, minimum wages in Delhi stood at a mere Rs 6,656 for unskilled workers and Rs 8,112 for skilled workers. These eligible families are the most vulnerable ones and therefore need maximum support,” he added.
Disproving Kejriwal’s claim on unlimited cover being provided under the “free health scheme of Delhi Government,” Harsh Vardhan stated that unlimited cover had no meaning if people still had to pay to get the treatment.
“PMJAY insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per year is good. Within 8 months of implementation of PMJAY, only 10 families out of almost 10.74 crore have exhausted this cover,” the Union Health Minister asserted.
He further said the proposed scheme of the Delhi government can be linked with PMJAY for enhanced cover for the poor and the vulnerable population of Delhi as they will not only get ready access to private hospitals, but will also be able to avail the benefits across the country.