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Nothing but a cheap political gimmick: Dr Santanu Sen on Ayushman Bharat

Kolkata: Ayushman Bharat, Narendra Modi government's ambitious healthcare scheme for the poor, is nothing short of a cheap political gimmick and a never implementable policy in reality, feels Rajya Sabha MP Dr Santanu Sen.

Dr Sen who is also the state secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has reacted sharply to the concept of Ayushman Bharat which he believes is "a sugar-coated dispensation in the form of a placebo".

He added: "At a time when the nationwide public mandate is sharply tilting against the Centre as it is evident from the results of by-elections in both the Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies across the state recently, the Modi government is playing to the gallery for alluring poor people. It is just a show and a façade which would never realistically extend any meaningful benefits to the poor, needy and the marginalized sections of society."

Dr Sen, who has a huge experience of working extensively in the health sector in the state not only as a doctor but also as a public representative, issued a clarion call to the people to stand against the Centre's move to implement its flagship health initiative. IMA Bengal also strongly opposed the proposal for various reasons and will continue to build public opinion in this regard.

The proposed healthcare scheme seems to be impracticable because it needs a budgetary allocation of nearly Rs 1.25 lakh crore but in reality what has been allocated by the Centre is around Rs 12,500 crore which is totally a cosmetic depiction.

"A realistic calculation out of the present allocation would bring that what has been proposed by the Centre for the scheme entails a per capita allocation of Rs 200 per year, which is nothing short of an unpardonable mockery of public welfare. The entire proposed dispensation is nothing but rubbing salt on the inflicted wounds of the poor people," Dr Sen maintained. It has been proposed in the scheme that only the NABH accredited hospitals would be empanelled. As a result, most of the small and medium hospitals would remain outside the ambit of the project. In India, more than 60 percent of the healthcare services are being provided by small and medium hospitals. This deliberate and intentional omission is a part of the ploy to cater to the cause of corporate hospitals exclusively catering to the rich, he added.

"In the proposed scheme, the Centre has kept private insurance companies as mandatory operators both at Central and state levels, despite knowing that the average profit margin of an insurance company is nearly 32 percent. It is clear that the Centre is trying to make the insurance companies rich at the cost of common tax payers' money. There is no clear directives regarding the bill settlement as well," Dr Sen pointed out.

"Who the Centre had consulted with before coming up with the concept? The largest medical organisation of the world, IMA was not taken into confidence before the launch of the said scheme. Though, health falls under the Concurrent list, various state governments must be consulted before formulating any policy. It is an attack on the Federal structure of the country," Dr Sen maintained.

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