T his Sept. 23, India launched one of the world’s largest health insurance programs that expects to cover 100 million families or an estimat- ed 500 million people, at an annu- al estimated cost of some $1.7 bil- lion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to launch Ayushman Bharat, literally translated to mean 'Long Life India', in Jharkhand where he also held a ribbon-cut- ting ceremony for 10 new 'well- ness centers' in that state. This Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB- NHPM) has now been jumpstarted (with believers and doubters ranged on both sides), under the leadership of CEO Indu Bhushan, former director general of the East Asia Department at Asian Development Bank for 35 years, also having served as a senior economist at The World Bank, with a post-grad- uate degree from Johns Hopkins University, in the U.S. "Glad that #AyushmanBharat, one of the largest healthcare ini- tiatives globally, is associated with two greats- Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. On Ambedkar Jayanti, wellness centres were launched and just before Deendayal Ji’s Jayanti. PMJay begins," Modi declared in a tweet. (PMJay is short for Pradhan Mantri Jan Ayog Yojana). "Better treatment should be available to all, that is the idea behind the launch of this pro- gram," Modi said (in Hindi) - "reaching health care to the last one in line; the poorest of the poor should receive treatment, quality care should be accessible," he added. When the plan was announced Ambitious Or Game Changer, ‘Modicare’ Targets Half Billion People HEALTHCARE FOR ALL 5 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2018 A paramedic distributes free medi- cine provided by the government to patients inside a ward at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai July 12, 2012. Photo: Reuters/Babu/Files By Ela Dutt