Nearly a year after Ayushman Bharat scheme was launched amid much hype and fanfare across the country, the scheme is yet to take off in several cities in Uttar Pradesh.
The scheme was launched on September 23, 2018, as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). Even after having an Ayushman card, patients have been running from pillar to post for treatment. Due to the arbitrariness of the hospitals in Agra district, people are unable to get treatment. The Health Department is receiving eight to 10 such complaints on daily basis. A patient had also died allegedly due to lack of treatment earlier.
There are 47 hospitals registered in the Agra district under Ayushman Yojana. A total of 5,006 patients have been treated in these hospitals so far, including 4,334 in private hospitals and 672 in government hospitals. However, there were seven patients who were forced to return home after they were reportedly refused treatment.
According to a report in Hindi daily Amar Ujala, a resident of Etah district, Hariom Singh, said that his wife could not be admitted for her elbow operation. Despite having an Ayushman card, her wife could not avail the facility. In another case, Bobby Valmiki, a resident of Barhan of Agra district, reached the hospital at Delhi Gate with his one and a half years old child. The child was diagnosed with a neurological disease, but could not be admitted. Due to poverty, he did not visit any private hospital and returned home with the child, it was reported. Later, he died.
Agra is not the only district in Uttar Pradesh from where such cases have been reported. In February, a family from Mirzapur district was denied treatment by the doctors even though they had produced the Ayushman card. Doctors had reportedly told them that Ayushman card had no value.
WHAT DATA SUGGESTS
The cost of the treatment provided under Ayushman scheme is split in a 60:40 ratio between the state and the central government in plain areas, and in a 90:10 ratio in Northeastern and Himalayan states.
Surprisingly, according to the data available on Uttar Pradesh Assembly official website, only Rs 66.80 crore were spent in 2019-20 (financial year) despite allocation of Rs 1,298 crore. Similarly, in 2018-19 (financial year), Rs 48.70 was spent out of allocation of Rs 440 crore. This expenditure is till July 16 this year, and the rest amount can be used in the remaining financial year.
In two financial years, total Rs 1,738 crore were allocated, but Rs 114.50 were spent – which means that Rs 1,624 crore were not spent. According to the census data conducted by the government of India on the basis of economic status and caste, 1.18 crore eligible beneficiary families have been identified in Uttar Pradesh under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. But only 36 lakh received their Ayushman card, and out of these, 13 lakh received treatment – which is just 11.27% of the total number of beneficiaries identified.
The question regarding the schemes was recently raised by Leader of the Opposition Aradhana Mishra Mona in the state Assembly.
Aradhana Mishra, who is also a Congress MLA from Rampur Khas, told NewsClick, "Ayushman Bharat is not a new scheme, but it was started by the Congress-led UPA government. The Modi government repackaged and introduced it ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The government has said this scheme will serve the poor people, but on the ground, the reality is totally different. Because to get this card, the process is pretty complex."
She added, "A private company was given responsibility to make this card, which is beyond my understanding. I meet several people in my constituency and others too who have the Ayushman card, but they are being denied treatment. I have raised this issue in the Assembly and in the data, you can see that. The data was given by the government, and not by me. A huge amount for this scheme was not spent. This shows how serious the government is about the health of the poor."
Meanwhile, according to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, as many as 41 lakh people have so far benefited from the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme across the country.