Union minister Harsh Vardhan Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that the country will have 40,000 Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC), meant for primary health care, by the end of 2019-20. He said over 19,000 AB-HWCs are at present operating in the country. “The target for operationalising AB-HWCs by the end of 2019-20 is 40,000. Out of these, as reported by the states and Union Territories, 19,567 AB-HWCs have been operationalised till July 5, 2019,” the minister told the Upper House.
The Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres are supported by the government for strengthening primary health centres in states for promotive and preventive health care.
“The AB-HWCs are envisioned to provide an expanded range of services, including care for non-communicable diseases as well as prevention, and health promotion and wellness activities like Yoga apart from services already being provided for maternal and child health, including immunisation and communicable diseases,” Vardhan said in a written reply. The health minister said in order to provide a comprehensive health coverage to the beneficiaries, free essential drugs and diagnostic services are also being provided through AB-HWCs.
Services at AB-HWCs are free and universal to all, he said. On the number of hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), another component of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, the minister replied that as on July 11, there are over 15,000 hospitals under the scheme. “Under AB-PMJAY, state governments empanel hospitals within their jurisdiction to provide care to the identified beneficiary families. As on July 11, 2019, 15,965 hospitals, with 7,997 private and 7,968 public establishments, have been empanelled under the Yojana,” Vardhan said.
“No targets for empanelment of hospitals have been set,” he said. The BJP leader said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation of AB-PMJAY has been signed with 33 states and Union Territories. “Only Delhi, Odisha and Telangana have not signed the MoU. At present, the scheme is operational in 30 states/UTs. The implementation of the scheme has been rolled back in West Bengal by the state government. These states have not cited any particular reason for non-implementation of the scheme,” he informed the Parliament.
Under AB-PMJAY, 1,393 benefit packages along with their rates have been put in place for usage of hospitals empanelled under the scheme, the minister said on a question about fixing of rates for the procedures. These rates were decided as per the recommendations of a committee headed by Director General Health Services, Government of India and peer reviewed by NITI Aayog, he said.
“The recommendations of the committee were based on a series of consultations with various stakeholders, including medical professionals, AIIMS, hospital associations and industry bodies. The package rates are indicative in nature and states have the flexibility to decrease or increase up to 10 per cent depending on their suitability,” the health minister said.
AB-PMJAY is an entitlement-based scheme with the entitlement being decided on the basis of deprivation and occupational criteria in the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database, he added.