Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal recently wrote a letter to the Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, stating that Delhi Aarogya Kosh (DAK) is better than the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat. The letter makes this claim, after Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote a letter to states including Delhi that are yet to implement Ayushmaan Bharat healthcare scheme unrolled in 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Kejriwal also claimed that people from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were availing the DAK scheme in Delhi. However, a careful examination of the two schemes, based on what is available in the public domain, shows how his claims do not add up.
Here is a factcheck of Arvind Kejriwal’s claims on DAK.
Lakhs of People From UP And Bihar Come to Delhi to Avail Benefits Of Delhi’s Healthcare Scheme
DAK is meant to cover only the domiciled residents of Delhi. Therefore, claims to people from other states, who cannot prove their domicile status, does not make sense. In contrast, Ayushman Bharat allows the residents of India to access the benefits of the scheme with the empanelled hospitals anywhere across the country, allowing mobility of the patient.
Delhi is Running a Good Healthcare Scheme
Only 56 private hospitals and nursing homes are empanelled under DAK. The ratio is works out to is 1 private medical facility for every 3,00,000 people in Delhi. In contrast, Ayushman Bharat has empanelled 329 private hospitals in Haryana and 1,504 hospitals in Uttar Pradesh. That implies a ratio of 1 private hospital for every 77,000 people in Haryana and 1 private hospital for every 1,00,000 people in Uttar Pradesh.
One must also add the fact that the number of beds added in government hospitals in Delhi, which are also supposed to be part of the DAK, are yet to come up. So far, Delhi government has added only 390 beds in five years in all of its hospitals against a promise of 30,000 beds. A Delhi Dialogue Commission ‘performance report’ on healthcare in Delhi also shows that they are behind schedule on adding another 3,500 beds in five new government hospitals. In contrast, the Health Ministry managed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi alone is adding 5000 beds by 2024. Making matters worse, a report by the Expert Committee of Delhi High Court in December 2019 found healthcare in Delhi in a poor state, with expensive medical equipment costing crores lying unutilised and over occupancy of wards among other issues.
DAK not only enables free medical treatment in government hospitals; it also allows patients to get tests and operations done in private hospitals for free in case the government hospitals are not able to undertake these procedures immediately.
Mr. Arvind Kejriwal conveniently side steps facts on other aspects of DAK as well. The number of surgical packages covered under DAK are 1000, including dialysis. In contrast, Ayushman Bharat covers 1,393 surgical packages.
Also, DAK mandates that patients have to get referred to empanelled private hospitals for 86 surgeries in case the Delhi Government facilities cannot provide it in 30 days. In contrast, Ayushman Bharat puts no such compulsion on the subscriber – the patient can go to any empanelled hospital directly for treatment.
Delhi Healthcare Scheme Also Covers Accident Victims
Another fact ignored by Mr. Kejriwal is the fact that accident victims have to be necessarily given free healthcare as per the Supreme Court directions, irrespective of their domicile. Therefore, claims of novelty of the idea do not stand scrutiny. Moreover, even the payouts to private hospitals for the accident victims has not been on time. The few private hospitals enrolled in DAK threatened to pull back from the scheme citing delay in reimbursements from the Delhi government on the same.
Since the letter came out in the news, we tried to go through the website of Delhi’s Health Department. However, it has been under maintenance. However, our fact check based on the performance report of Delhi Dialogue Commission clearly shows that Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has not been forthright about DAK vis-à-vis Ayushman Bharat.