Home >Politics >Policy >Government to tweak Modicare for North-East states
Modicare, touted by the government as the world’s largest healthcare programme, is expected to provide health insurance to about 500 million economically deprived people and is estimated to cost Rs12,000 crore annually. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Modicare, touted by the government as the world’s largest healthcare programme, is expected to provide health insurance to about 500 million economically deprived people and is estimated to cost Rs12,000 crore annually. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Government to tweak Modicare for North-East states

The government will chart out a special plan under Modicare for North-East India, keeping in mind geographical factors and lack of healthcare facilities in the region

New Delhi: Amid preparations for implementing the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), dubbed Modicare, the Union ministry of health and family welfare is planning to tweak the ambitious entitlement scheme for the North-East, and draw up customized plans.

“Considering special needs of North-Eastern states such as geographical factors and lack of hospitals and diagnostic laboratories, we will chart out a special plan under AB-NHPM for these states. Consultations are ongoing and in April we plan to meet again, especially with the North-Eastern states," said Alok Saxena, joint secretary in the Union health ministry.

“North-Eastern states have various challenges such as long distances, which make transport for availing healthcare difficult. With AB-NHPM that aims to provide health insurance to nearly 40% of the population, it will help North-Eastern states improve healthcare facilities for their people," Saxena added.

In a round of discussions with the health ministry this week, the North-Eastern states voiced their healthcare delivery challenges as well as proposals for adapting Modicare.

Assam, for instance, proposed to run AB-NHPM in parallel with its own health scheme, Atal Amrit Abhiyan, which was announced in 2016 and is set to be launched in April.

“Atal Amrit Abhiyan scheme is in line with the Ayushman Bharat NHPM. We have already covered over three crore people in the state and distributed cards to over 1.8 crore people with unique identity codes. We are unveiling the scheme either on 7 or 8 April 2018. We have already enrolled 125 hospitals. The scheme gives coverage of Rs2 lakh per individual unlike AB-NHPM which is Rs5 lakh per family," Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance, health and education minister said.

“As we already have the architecture ready for Atal Amrit Abhiyan, and cards have already been distributed, we have requested the central government to integrate both the schemes. The central government has said that it will customize Modicare with the existing healthcare schemes that we are in the process of launching," he added.

The Atal Amrit Abhiyan health insurance scheme in Assam has a provision for coverage of up to Rs2 lakh for six critical ailments and 468 other diseases.

Patients can avail cashless treatment at all government and Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)-empanelled private hospitals across India through a smart health card. Any resident of Assam earning up to Rs5 lakh annually is covered under the scheme.

According to the Union health ministry, of the seven North-Eastern states, four—Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim—have no government medical college and face a shortage of trained medical manpower. Several diseases such as dengue, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, HIV/AIDS and tobacco-related cancers are highly prevalent in the North-East, government data shows.

Inadequate availability of healthcare services further worsens the healthcare scenario. AB-NHPM is touted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as the world’s largest healthcare programme, expected to provide healthcare to about 500 million economically deprived people. It is estimated to cost about Rs12,000 crore annually.

anuja@livemint.com

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