Cabinet Gives Nod to New Healthcare Scheme

The Cabinet approved the launch of the centrally sponsored National Health Protection Scheme to give more than 100 million families health cover of ₹5 lakh each. Separately, in a move expected to be a “major boost” for the country’s health infrastructure, the Cabinet also approved the continuation of the National Health Mission with budgetary support of ₹85,217 crore as the Centre’s share between April 2017 and March 2020.

NHPS, dubbed ‘Modicare’ by some ministers, is expected to be the world’s largest government-funded health programme. The ₹5 lakh cover will take care of “almost all” secondary care and most tertiary care procedures, according to a release following the Cabinet approval. The plan had been announced in finance minister Arun Jaitley’s February 1 Budget.

The Budget allocated to the National Health Mission will be integrated with the proposed NHPS scheme under Ayushman Bharat, it stated. In order to implement NHPS, an Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mision Agency will be put in place, it said. States and Union territories will be advised to implement it using a dedicated entity known as the State Health Agency, it added.

“The expenditure incurred in premium payment will be shared between the Central and state governments in a specified ratio as per ministry of finance guidelines in vogue,” the government said, adding that the total expenditure will depend on actual market-determined premiums paid in the states and Union territories where it will be rolled out.

In regions where the scheme will be implemented using a trust model, the Central share of the funds provided will be based on actual expenditure or the premium ceiling, whichever is lower, in a predetermined ratio. The scheme is expected to rein in patient hospitalisation expenditure, which has increased nearly 300% over the last decade in India.

The Cabinet also gave its approval for moving official amendments in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, to control unethical practices in surrogacy in India, prevent commercialisation and prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

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