The National Health Authority is on a war footing to ready a COVID-19 special package under the government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY scheme as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise and many states go for a lockdown.
The NHA chief executive, Dr. Indu Bhushan said that this is among the steps being taken by the Authority just in case there’s a need. Specific coronavirus-related plans for isolation wards are being finetuned, after which it would be reviewed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in terms of protocol. It will have to be approved by the NHA’s governing board after that. Officials pointed out that such a package would be needed if coronavirus spreads to the community level.
Currently, the Ayushman-PMJAY scheme, which does not deal with preventive healthcare cover, offers hospitalisation packages for intensive care units, high-dependency units and normal wards. There’s no provision for isolation wards under the universal health assurance scheme, which caters to underprivileged citizens with an annual cover of Rs 5 lakh per family. Since isolation wards, a necessity for patients infected with the virus, will be like private wards, the cost, to be borne by PMJAY, will be significantly higher.
The NHA is also keeping a close watch on its live data as well as on the call centre details that the Ayushman scheme sits on to detect any unusual pattern. The measure is expected to help in minimising the impact of coronavirus in India, Dr. Bhushan said.