Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday rolled out Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Launching the scheme, PM Modi said the intended beneficiaries outnumber the total population of the European Union or that of the USA, Canada and Mexico put together.
"PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat is the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world. The number of beneficiaries is almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and the US taken together," Modi said.
PM termed it a game-changer initiative to serve the poor and said the scheme would come into effect from Sunday.
Catch all the latest news about Lok Sabha elections 2019 HERE
Without taking names, Modi used the occasion to target the Congress for using schemes for the sake of vote-bank politics.
"Previous governments' schemes were guided by vote bank, with the beneficiaries selected on the basis of potential vote bank for them. But we strive for the empowerment of the poor. We believe in inclusive growth. The scheme is not aimed at benefiting a particular region or community or caste. It is for all, for the poorest of poor. The poor don't want freebies, they have self-respect and seek empowerment. We work for their empowerment," he said.
The magnitude of the scheme could be gauged from the fact that more than 1,300 ailments are covered under it, including heart diseases, kidney and liver disorders and diabetes, the PM said.
"People are calling the scheme Modicare and by other names, but for me it is an opportunity to serve the poor. Even the ones living in the lowest strata of the society will benefit from the scheme," he said.
Congratulating the team that was instrumental in the programme's implementation, he said the officials would receive the blessings of 50 crore beneficiaries.
"I hope and pray that the poor don't have to visit hospitals, but, if they do, the Ayushman cover will be at their service. The poor of my country must get all facilities that the rich enjoy," he said.
The health scheme will set an example for countries across the world, Modi said.
"No one needs to register for the initiative. A health card would be provided to the beneficiaries for availing of the benefits. A toll-free number will be made available to the people for finding out more about the scheme," he said.
Modi also said that 2,500 modern hospitals would come up in tier-II and tier-III cities and would generate employment opportunities.
"A total of 13,000 hospitals have become a part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Our government has taken a holistic approach to lay stress on affordable and preventive health care," he added.
Earlier in the day, after his arrival at Prabhat Tara Maidan in Ranchi, the PM doled out token health cards to some of the beneficiaries and he also laid foundations stones of two medical colleges at Chaibasa and Koderma in the state.
About Ayushman Bharat:
The scheme will provide a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of Empanelled Health Care Providers (EHCP).
The EHCP network will provide cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiaries at both public and private hospitals.
The services will include 1,350 procedures covering pre- and post-hospitalisation, diagnostics and medicines.
Ayushman Bharat has two components -- creation of 150,000 health and wellness centres which will provide Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) and the PMJAY which provides health protection cover to poor and vulnerable families for secondary and tertiary care.
The first Health and Wellness Centre was launched by Modi at Jangla, Chhattisgarh on April 14.
PMJAY primarily targets the poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational category of urban workers' families as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data for both rural and urban areas as well as the active families under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).
The objectives of the scheme are to reduce out of pocket hospitalisation expenses, fulfill unmet needs and improve access of identified families to quality inpatient care and surgeries.
The scheme allows states enough flexibility in terms of packages, procedures, scheme design, entitlements as well as other guidelines while ensuring that key benefits of portability and fraud detection are ensured at a national level.
States have the option to use an existing trust/society or set up a new trust/society to implement the scheme as State Health Agency and will be free to choose the modalities for implementation.
It can implement the Scheme through an insurance company or directly through the trust/society/implementation support agency or a mixed approach.
The pilot launch of the scheme has already been done in around 22 states and Union Territories. About 30 states and union territories have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and started working on implementing the mission.
WATCH VIDEO: PM Modi launches Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)- 'Ayushman Bharat' in Jharkhand
(With inputs from agencies)