Herald: GIM to host debate on Ayushman Bharat: Raza
Herald News

GIM to host debate on Ayushman Bharat: Raza

10 Nov 2018 06:04am IST

Report by
AJIT JOHN

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10 Nov 2018 06:04am IST

Report by
AJIT JOHN

Goa Institute of Management (GIM) is organising a healthcare conference scheduled to be held later this month. AJIT JOHN spoke to Prof Arif Raza, faculty and chairperson, Healthcare Management to know more about it.

HERALD: What prompted GIM to hold this conference?

ARIF RAZA: One of the key announcements in the national budget, 2018 of the Government of India was the launch of Ayushman Bharat – the National Health Protection Scheme, through which government aims to provide health coverage to over 500 million people, many of who are unable to afford secondary and tertiary care services. 

There are significant concerns about the scheme and its implementation. Being a new scheme there is uncertainty over how this scheme is going to impact the healthcare landscape of India. To bring clarity on the matter, Goa Institute of Management (GIM) is organising a conference on the theme - Ayushman Bharat and its implications for Universal Health Coverage in India – where thought leaders representing government, industry and academia will deliberate, analyse and critique the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The conference will be held on November 17 at Taj Vivanta, Panjim.

Dignitaries at the conference will include the Chief Guest Vishwajit P Rane, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Goa while Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Pankaj Patel, CMD, Cadilla Healthcare will deliver keynote addresses. Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, National Health Agency and Ayushman Bharat will also speak at the conference.

India as a signatory of Sustainable Development Goals, is attempting to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. UHC, as per concept, requires every citizen to have access to basic healthcare and is not restricted only to the marginalized population. Can we expect AB to therefore fill the gap in a financially sustainable manner? That’s a question which need to be deliberated upon. 


HERALD: For a scheme of this magnitude, is the budget adequate?

AR:  The budget allocated for the scheme is Rs 2000 crore for this year. Is it sufficient to finance a scheme of such magnitude? There is another component in the scheme, which is for creation of 1,50,000 ‘health and wellness centres’, for which Rs 1200 crore has been allocated. This translates to just Rs 80,000 per centre, which appears grossly inadequate.

 

HERALD: What are the hurdles in implementation?

AR:  A scheme of such nature, involves large number of players, including doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, governments and civil society. Such a complex schemes is very likely to fall in implementation hurdles if not planned well. So, what implementation hurdles have been anticipated and how is it going to be tackled? Some of the issues under this are issues of healthcare providers and getting them on board, preventing frauds and corruption, checks and balance to control moral hazards, preventing cream skimming by private players and issues of healthcare product industry – Medical devices, pharmaceuticals.


HERALD: How is the scheme is different from previous schemes, other than its scale?  

AR:  Before Ayushman Bharat, Government of India has the RSBY scheme, which has similar objectives, many state governments also had their own schemes for UHC. There have been numerous issues faced under these schemes, such as delayed payments, rate fixation, inefficient enrolment etc. Has Ayushman Bharat taken sufficient measures to tackle those issues? If not, this would then be just another scheme, with the same set of problems.

These and other such issues, which will be brought up during the event will be discussed and deliberated upon. The event is expected to conclude by enlightening the audience on understanding of where does the scheme stands, what benefits can be expected and the risks and challenges involved.
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