As many as 27 states and Union Territories are ready to join the ambitious healthcare scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana after its launch on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Niti Aayog member said.
Over 15,000 hospitals, both public and private, across the country have expressed their willingness to be empanelled for the scheme which aims to provide 10.74-crore poor families health insurance, Niti Aayog member V K Paul, who is the chief architect of the scheme, told PTI in an interview.
"The Prime Minister will launch the scheme on September 23 but effectively it will become operational from September 25 on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay," he said, adding that in the current fiscal, the burden on the centre is likely to be around Rs 3,500 crore.
"With the launch by the prime minister, 26-27 states and UTs are likely to immediately commence the PMJAY," Mr Paul added.
The Niti Aayog member said that five or six states have not signed, so obviously the scheme will not be implemented in those states till they come on board.
"Remaining states that have signed (MoUs with the Centre) should hopefully be in the process of actual launch of (PMJAY) in the next 2-3 months," he noted.
The mega healthcare scheme aims to provide medical cover of up to Rs 5 lakh to over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families, constituting 40 per cent of India's total population.
Billed as the world's largest government healthcare programme, it will be funded with 60 per cent contribution coming from the central government and the remaining from the states.
Mr Paul also said that the government expects thousands of new hospitals to come up in the next five years in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
"We have received applications from 15,000 hospitals for being empanelled ... Out of this half, that means 7,500 applications for empanelment are private hospitals," he said, adding that in some states process for empanelment is yet to start.
Noting that the government is in the process of building optimum hospital infrastructure in small towns,Mr Paul highlighted that there was about 30 per cent spare capacity in the private sector, "which is now available".
Asked about the cost to the exchequer in the current fiscal, he said, "Around Rs 3,500 crore has been budgeted by the central government for the scheme this year".
He mentioned that Rs 2,000 crore had been provided in the budget for 2018-19 as token money for the scheme, then named as Ayushman Bharat.
"We are six months into this fiscal and we also know that only 27 states will go immediately into operations. Therefore full uptake is still be building up. Accordingly, Rs 1,500 crore more has been sought, so we now have Rs 3500 crore as central government budget."
"So I don't think there is any concern for money at all. As the scheme matures, we will have more precise estimates, and even if in current fiscal more money is required, it will be made available" he asserted.
Asked how confident is the government that the PMJAY will not face the teething troubles like Goods and Services Tax (GST), Mr Paul said the government has taken steps to ensure that the information technology (IT) system did not face any hiccups.
Also, he added that the original software has been tested in Telangana and have been improved further.
On whether the beneficiary would be required to produce any special card for treatment in any empanelled hospital, Mr Paul said, "One would only need to establish one's identity. It could be through Aadhaar card or election ID card or ration card."
All the poor people identified by the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 will be eligible for the scheme, the Niti Aayog member added.
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