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The Union Budget 2018-19 saw a major announcement of the country’s most ambitious health scheme — Ayushman Bharat — which will provide insurance cover for over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. Claimed as the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme, the scheme saw allocation of Rs 1,200 crore by the Finance Ministry.

In a move towards attaining the ambitious goal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the National Centre for Ageing at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on 29 June 2018.The project worth Rs 300 crore will be a 200-bed centre and provide older population with multi-speciality healthcare.

During the same event, the PM also inaugurated a 555-bed super speciality block and 500-bed new emergency block in Safdarjung hospital.

On 14 April 2018, the Prime Minister inaugurated a Health and Wellness Centre to mark the launch of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The centre was inaugurated at Jangla Development Hub in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

In order to further enhance accessibility of quality medical education and healthcare, 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals will be set up, and also upgrade the existing district hospitals in the country. This will ensure that there is at least one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies and at least one government medical college in each state.

The Ayushman Bharat scheme, with an aim of providing healthcare accessible to the poor and middle class, received approval from the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 May 2018. In order to ensure that no one is left out from the scheme, the government has not placed any cap on the size of the family under the insurance cover. A defined transportation allowance per hospitalisation will also be paid to the beneficiary.

As per data compiled by Projects Today, till 31 March 2018, a total of 853 hospital projects are in the pipeline entailing an investment of Rs 78,138.57 crore.

BRS Medicity worth Rs 5,450 crore will be developed near Amravati, Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. The project will be developed in phases on 100 acre of land. The project will include facilities like a Medical University with a medical college worth Rs 1,150 crore for 800 students. A super-speciality 1,500-bed hospital will comprise trauma centres, operation theaters, OPD, ICU, among other facilities.

The project will also house medical device manufacturing industry, knowledge process outsourcing centre, stem cell research centre, analytics and quantum centre. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu laid the foundation stone for the project in August 2017. An amount of Rs 231.25 crore was sanctioned in the Budget 2018-19 and Rs 69.72 crore has been released.

The Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre (Phase-II) expansion project is another big ticket development worth Rs 3,000 crore. The project is being implemented by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in its campus at Rajnagar in New Delhi.

The expansion plan includes centres for digestive diseases, endocrinology, ENT, spine, bone marrow transplant and kidney transplant. The project will have a capacity of 1,841 beds and is expected to be ready by August 2020.

The Department of Medical Education & Research, Haryana, is planning to construct a Medical Science University in Karnal district at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. The project will have multi-specialties, super-specialties, colleges of nursing, physiotherapy, and skill development centre for para-medical courses.

So far 20 states have signed a memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, marking their commitment towards launching the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission.

The Ayushman Bharat will make healthcare accessible free of cost which is expected to cover 1,300 treatments. The insurance scheme is scheduled to be launched on 15 August 2018 on the occasion of the Independence Day. The Centre has released the model tender documents for its new scheme.

The scheme will provide health coverage up to Rs five lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. The scheme will combine the benefits of the current centrally-sponsored schemes — Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS). Under the scheme, the expenditure incurred in premium payment will be shared between the Central and state governments in a specified ratio of 60:40.

The entitlement-based scheme will be on the basis of deprivation criteria given in the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database. The government has set different categories in rural and urban areas which will come under this scheme — 11 defined occupational categories are entitled under the scheme.

To control costs, the payments for treatment will be done on package rates which will be defined by the government in advance. The package rates will include all the costs associated with the treatment. For beneficiaries, it will be a cashless, paperless transaction. Keeping in view specific regional requirements, states/UTs will have the the option to modify these rates within a limited bandwidth.

For giving policy directions and fostering co-ordination between the Centre and states, it is proposed to set up the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda. The states will need to have the State Health Agency (SHA) to implement the scheme.

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