Odisha gives Ayushman Bharat plan a rethink
The Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, which had firmly opposed the Centre’s flagship health programme Ayushman Bharat before the Lok Sabha elections, appears likely to give it a second thought.
The state government said it would examine a fresh proposal from the Centre on implementing the health scheme, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that offers cover up to Rs 5 lakh.
The Naveen government’s stiff opposition to the scheme had turned into a major election issue, with Modi joining other BJP leaders in criticising the state dispensation.
The Odisha government had said that its own health scheme — the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) — was better than the Centre’s programme and there was no need to implement Ayushman Bharat in the state.
Now with the elections over and no immediate occasion for a face-off between Naveen’s BJD and the BJP, the Centre made another attempt to convince Odisha to implement the scheme.
The Odisha government has responded with a more positive approach.
The breakthrough came when Ayushman Bharat CEO, Dr. Indu Bhusan, called on Odisha chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi at the state secretariat on Tuesday and discussed the implementation of the scheme. Later, Dr Bhusan met Odisha health minister Naba Kishore Das.
Padhi said: “We had a preliminary discussion about the Ayushman Bharat scheme and the Odisha government’s own Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. The discussions are at an initial stage. We can reach a conclusive point after two-three rounds of discussion.”
Only four states — Odisha, Bengal, Telangana and Delhi — have not accepted Ayushman Bharat.Bhusan maintained that the modalities were being chalked out for a possible merger of Ayushman Bharat and the BSKY, which provides free health care, in Odisha.
“Odisha has a very good and strong scheme. Our challenge is how to converge the central health scheme with the existing scheme of the Odisha government. We are hopeful they will implement the scheme,” Bhusan told reporters at the state secretariat after the meeting.
“Our first round of talks has been very positive. We need to explore how to share the expenses incurred at public hospitals because Odisha is providing free services to everyone without distinguishing on the basis of income status. Everything will be done in a transparent manner in line with the cabinet decision on the Ayushman Bharat.”