The country's most ambitious health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat may not find takers in West Bengal, Punjab, Odisha and Delhi.
Interestingly, all the four are non-BJP-ruled States. Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee had sent top officials from the State’s Health Department for a two-day consultations on the scheme.
The officials maintained that the State is already running a similar scheme, ‘Swasthya Saathi’ since 2017, which provides paperless, cashless and smartcard-based facilities to its citizens. Basic health cover for secondary and tertiary care up to ₹1.5 lakh a year through insurance mode is provided under the scheme. It covers critical areas such as cancer care, neuro and cardiothoracic surgeries, liver diseases, blood disorders and so on up to ₹5 lakh through the assurance mode already in place.
Officials in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare maintain that while West Bengal and Delhi are staying away because of political reasons, the Punjab government is strapped for funds and has conveyed that it is difficult for it to make financial arrangements for the 40 per cent State share of the scheme. The Centre pays 60 per cent.
“The Delhi government has not signed up for a host of Central government programmes due to differences of opinion,” said an official working in the Health Department of the Delhi government.
Karnataka, too, has shied away from signing the MoU with the Centre till now. “The issues with Karnataka will be resolved soon. It is just that Karnataka is in the process of forming a new government. We are hoping that they will come on board soon,” said a senior official from MoHFW.
In spite of Union Health Minister JP Nadda's claim that 14 States will sign the MoU, officials are still unsure about every State participating in the ambitious scheme that will provide cashless insurance of ₹5 lakh to 10 crore families. “All States will attend the consultation on June 14, but we are still unsure which of these will sign the MoU,” said Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan.