NEW DELHI: Hinting at possible fund crunch, funds disbursed to states under the Narendra Modi government’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) have come down drastically in the current fiscal as compared to the previous year. Moreover, states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu — apart from several UTs — have not received any fund this year, so far.
As per the data shared by the National Health Authority — the body responsible for running the PMJAY — in the Rajya Sabha, the agency disbursed `1,013 crore to the states since April. In comparison, the NHA had disbursed `1,849 crore between September last year and March, 2019. This, in effect, means that the funds are down by nearly 45 per cent. Launched in September 2018, the Yojana provides for hospitalisation benefits of up to `5 lakh per family for a wide range of treatments and procedures. The government says that nearly 66 lakh patients have benefitted under the programme so far.
Senior officials in the NHA, meanwhile, put the onus on states for what they are calling is “delay” in fund disbursal. “We release the funds from our side in the escrow accounts only when the states release its share of 40 per cent in case or 10 per cent, as the case may be applicable,” Indu Bhushan, CEO, NHA, said. The Centre allocated `6,400 crore as announced in the Union Budget this year, but it’s not clear how much of the fund earmarked for the scheme has actually been released, so far.
Public health experts warned that the PMJAY could go the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana way if the claims by the hospitals remain unsettled for long. “Whether its due to delay on the part of Centre or states, the fact remains that hospitals empanelled under the scheme will start feeling uneasy if payments remain stuck for long. That’s something the NHA cannot ignore,” said a health economist.