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Union Health Minister hits back at Kejriwal over Ayushman Bharat

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Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday rebutted Arvind Kejriwal's claim that Delhi government's health scheme is "ten times bigger and comprehensive" than the Centre's flagship Ayushman Bharat programme and said the chief minister's "callous" response shows he is "least interested" in the welfare of the people of Delhi.

Vardhan shot off a second letter to the Delhi chief minister as the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme became yet another bone of contention between the Centre and the Delhi government, which has refused to implement it in the city.

After the Union Health Minister wrote to Kejriwal pressing him on the issue, the chief minister had replied on Friday that the Delhi Government has introduced free health care and, therefore, need not implement the central scheme.

But Vardhan hit back saying all 'fancy schemes" of the AAP government", "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-half-years"

"Shriman Kejriwal ji, your tenure as chief minister of Delhi is about to expire . It is only with an eye on the impending assembly election that you have started befooling the public by showering bizarre schemes one after another that shall never take off," he said.

"Your Mohalla Clinics are an utter flop and the drastic neglect of patient care in Delhi government hospitals is there for all to see, the Union Health Minister said in his letter.

At the same time Vardhan again invited the chief minister to work together for the larger good of the people of Delhi and the country and said the proposed scheme of Delhi Government can be linked with Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY) PMJAY. He said it will provide enhanced cover for the poor and vulnerable population of Delhi as they will not only get ready access to private hospitals but will also be able to get benefits across the country.

Countering chief minister's statement, Vardhan stated that while all states can claim to be providing free health care through government hospitals, in reality citizens still have to spend a lot from their pocket to get the so-called free treatment.

PMJAY targets almost 30 lakh (15pc of total population) people 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," he said.

Disapproving of the chief minister's claim on unlimited cover being provided by Delhi Government, Vardhan stated that unlimited cover has no meaning if people still have to pay to get the treatment.

PMJAY insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakh per year is good. In 8 months of implementation of PMJAY, only 10 families out of almost 10.74 crore families have exhausted this cover, the Union Health Minister asserted.

Vardhan in his letter also highlighted several salient features of PMJAY,

Due to availability of electronic data under PMJAY, states are able to get the real time disease profile and since data comes in real time, early signs of epidemic can be seen from the data and these can be contained quickly. As far as I understand, in the proposed Delhi government scheme, real time electronic data from both public and private hospitals is not available, he mentioned.

Kejriwal had on Friday made public his letter to the Union Health Minister.

"I am surprised that as chief minister of Delhi you have chosen to be so flippant and callous in your attitude.... it shows that you are least interested in the welfare of the people of Delhi," Vardhan said in his response.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sat, June 08 2019. 20:45 IST