Instructs officers to keep facts and narratives ready; scheme expected to figure high on BJP re-election campaign.
New Delhi: With just a week left for the launch of the Centre’s ambitious insurance-based healthcare scheme under Ayushman Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed the team of officers to ensure they are ready to counter any ‘negative’ media coverage.
“Be prepared for negative news coverage of the scheme and keep facts and narratives ready to counter reports,” the Prime Minister has instructed the team behind the project.
Working on the instructions, the team has begun addressing any loopholes in the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), popularly referred to as ‘Modicare’, slated to be launched on Independence Day, August 15.
“The Prime Minister is concerned that there shouldn’t be any flaw in the rollout of the scheme. He has rightly pointed out that as general elections are approaching next year, even a minor lag will be amplified in the media coverage,” Indu Bhushan, CEO, Ayushman Bharat, told ThePrint.
The project is expected to figure high on the Modi government’s 2019 re-election campaign. Touted as the world’s largest national health insurance scheme, it promises to ease the healthcare burden of India’s poor.
Draft plan to ensure cleanliness in hospitals
The Centre had also formed a group to draft a strategy to keep hospitals clean after the Prime Minister urged officials to ensure the clean and safe environment in the hospitals.
“We have put a group together who are working on a plan to ensure the clean environment, guidelines for sanitation and environment-friendly disposals of bio-degradable wastes,” Bhushan said.
The team is also drafting the list of penalties in case of hospitals ‘cherry-picking’ patients. “Some of the media reports highlight that hospitals plan to reject patients if the proposed cost of treatment does not suit their expenses. We plan to take action and put penalties on such hospitals,” another official who was part of the meeting said.
Bhushan confirmed that picking patients on the basis of procedural charges would attract a fine and may also lead to cancellation of empanelment.
“We are developing state guidelines and improving capacities as well. The PM has urged us to ensure that the system is not exploited,” Bhushan said.
To begin with, the scheme aims to cover nearly 50 crore beneficiaries from over 10 crore ‘vulnerable’ families as per the 2011 Socio-economic and Caste Census (SECC) data with an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year.
Of these 10 crore families, the government says it has traced 95 per cent of them.
“It had been a mammoth task as we are tracing families based on the 2011 census data. It was tough as we need to understand that people are mobile and must have travelled to other parts of India in the last 7 years,” Bhushan said.
The Centre, however, is yet to find the remaining 65 lakh families, tagged as ‘vulnerable’ in the 2011 census, most of whom are from the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In UP, almost 23.61 lakh families are yet to be traced whereas in Bihar around 22 lakh families are missing. The remaining 19.45 lakh families are scattered across India.
Read Global Pulse for a sampler of the big international stories, and why they matter.