GUWAHATI, Oct 23 - More than 57,250 persons have availed cashless treatment under the Assam government�s Atal Amrit Abhiyan (AAA) healthcare scheme in the last year and half and the number of beneficiaries is expected to increase further in the coming days following the State Cabinet�s decision to expand the ambit of the scheme by bringing six additional critical care disease groups under it.
Addressing a press conference here today, Minister for Health & Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma said most of the beneficiaries of the scheme so far have availed its facility for treatment of cancer, kidney diseases and cardiology and cardiovascular surgeries during past 18 months.
Around 1.61 crore people have enrolled for the scheme and the government has borne an expenditure of Rs 136.99 crore so far under it. The scheme covered six specialities � cardiology and cardiovascular surgeries, neurological conditions, burns, cancer, kidney and neo-natal diseases.
�During the implementation of the scheme it was found that there is a need to bring in more specialities for the benefit of the patients such as ICU packages, trauma, critical care paediatrics and paediatric surgery, and bone marrow transplantation. Accordingly, during the Budget of 2019-20, the State government announced the expansion of the AAA to cover these specialities,� Sarma said.
He added, �In the meantime, during the last monsoon season people in the State were afflicted with Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. The State government provided all treatment facilities for these cases and aimed at bringing these ailments under AAA. Now the State Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Vistarita Atal Amrit Abhiyan (VAAA) with addition of six expensive critical care disease groups. These are ICU packages, trauma, critical care paediatrics and paediatric surgery, bone marrow transplantation, JE and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.�
The existing Atal Amrit Abhiyan Society (AAAS) will implement the VAAA and all the beneficiaries enrolled under AAA would be automatically eligible for the procedure under the expanded scheme.
The maximum amount of coverage per year would remain unchanged at Rs two lakh per member per year and the existing empanelled hospitals under AAA, including private, public and trust operated, both within and outside the State would automatically be eligible for treating the patients under the VAAA.
Sarma said that among those who have availed the benefits of the scheme since the induction of the cashless model in April last year, 27,424 were cancer patients, 20,263 were kidney patients and 6,470 were cardiology or heart patients.
�The new expanded scheme will be effective from November 1. We expect the number of beneficiaries under it to double soon,� he said.
Sarma added that the number of people who have already benefitted from the AAA would have been much more than 57,250 if the BPL families had not been brought under the Central government�s Ayushman Bharat Yojana or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
�So, it is mostly the middle and lower middle class people who are now availing the benefits under AAA,� said the Minister.
A total of 76 hospitals have been empanelled under the scheme. Out of these, 35 hospitals are empanelled outside the State and 41 hospitals are within Assam.
Sarma said that 95 per cent of the cancer patients in Assam are availing the benefit of either the AAA or the PMJAY.
Asked about JE vaccination, Sarma said that the State will have to deal with shortfalls for a few months as the three suppliers, tasked with providing the vaccines, have said that they will be able to provide only 25 lakh units as against the required 2.5 crore units.
The vaccines are being sourced from China.
�So, we will have complete vaccination only by August 2020. As such, we will have to tackle JE in a conservative way during the next monsoon,� Sarma said.
He added that the entire cost for vaccinating the adult population with JE vaccine will have to be borne by the State government.
The Minister further stated that Dr Manoj Kumar Baishya, Assistant Professor of the Department of Forensic Medicine, GMCH, who was arrested yesterday after being caught red-handed by sleuths of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption wing of the Assam Police while accepting bribe for issuing a post-mortem report, has been suspended from service.
Sarma added that many others across the State, on whom there is suspicion of wrongdoing, are under scanner.