The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Sunday raised questions over central government’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme claiming that there are several “loopholes” in it including the eligibility criteria, package rates, number of disciplines and involvement of insurance companies.
Addressing media here, IMA President Santanu Sen said, “Government should take suggestions from real practising doctors, then only they can have the actual idea before fixing up these rates.”
He stated that the eligibility criteria should be based on the “income of the beneficiaries.”
“There should be no insurance model. Before fixing up the package rates, before making decisions on a number of disciplines, an organisation like IMA should be taken into confidence,” Sen said while adding that if IMA is there onboard, then this project might be successful, otherwise in coming days it might be a “big flop”.
Sen said, “Even today, 60 per cent or above patients of India get their treatment done at small to medium scale hospitals, private nursing homes. If they are not empanelled, they will have no other way, but to close down. This will indirectly lead to the corporatisation of health service.”
While talking to ANI, Sen said, “They (Centre) are telling it (Ayushman Bharat) to be the most successful project in the country – in a country where the health budgetary allocation is only 1.1 per cent. So, this cannot be possible, this cannot be made feasible with this small budgetary allocation.”
Questioning various policies in the scheme, Sen said, “They are telling that they are serving 50 crore of Indians. What about the rest 80 crores of Indians? How did they decide that only 50 crore people need this service and not the rest? Health is a state chapter. Were all the states brought into the loop? Were there suggestions duly honoured? No. They have decided that only 24 disciplines of modern medicine will be included. Who said that in modern medicine there are only 24 disciplines? What about the rest? They have fixed up 1,393 packages. Who has given them the assurance that human being can suffer from only 1,393 diseases? Whose decision was taken before fixing this up?”
Sen stated that health services should be provided in “assurance model, not insurance model.”
He said, “The government money is going to government hospitals with the involvement of insurance companies, who will be keeping 15 per cent for their own. Why?”
Sen also stressed that before opening 1.5 lakh wellness clinics, the government should “develop and upgrade” all the existing sub-centers.