Ranchi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana-Ayushman Bharat from here on Sunday, and termed it a "game-changer initiative to serve the poor".
He said the scheme would come into effect from Sunday.
"PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat is the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world. The number of beneficiaries is almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and the US taken together," Modi said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, he said without empowering the poor, previous governments had indulged in "vote bank politics".
"It is the BJP government that is focused on empowering them (poor people)," he said.
The magnitude of the scheme could be gauged from the fact that more than 1,300 ailments are covered under it, including heart diseases, kidney and liver disorders and diabetes, the PM said.
"People are calling the scheme Modicare and by other names, but for me it is an opportunity to serve the poor. Even the ones living in the lowest strata of the society will benefit from the scheme," he said.
Congratulating the team that was instrumental in the programme's implementation, he said the officials would receive the blessings of 50 crore beneficiaries.
"I hope and pray that the poor don't have to visit hospitals, but, if they do, the Ayushman cover will be at their service. The poor of my country must get all facilities that the rich enjoy," he said.
Reiterating the slogan "Sabka saath, sabka vikas" (together for all, development for all), Modi said the Ayushman scheme is not based on any communal or caste lines.
"The programme will not differentiate between people, based on religion, caste, location. Every eligible person will be able to avail of the benefits," he asserted.
The health scheme will set an example for countries across the world, Modi said.
"No one needs to register for the initiative. A health card would be provided to the beneficiaries for availing of the benefits. A toll-free number will be made available to the people for finding out more about the scheme," he said.
Modi also said that 2,500 modern hospitals would come up in tier-II and tier-III cities and would generate employment opportunities.
"A total of 13,000 hospitals have become a part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Our government has taken a holistic approach to lay stress on affordable and preventive healthcare," he added.
Earlier in the day, the PM doled out token health cards to some of the beneficiaries after his arrival at Prabhat Tara Maidan here. He also laid foundations stones of two medical colleges at Chaibasa and Koderma in the state....