Punjab govt’s own sehat bima yojna delays implementation of ‘Modicare’

Punjab government’s own Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna (BPSSBY) is coming in the way of early implementation of Centre’s ‘Ayushmaan Bharat’ health insurance scheme, also known as ‘Modicare’.

The BPSSBY offers health scheme to nearly double the families that Modicare will cover, but the insurance amount under the central scheme is 10 times the state’s.

Punjab is already providing a health insurance cover of up to Rs 50,000 to 29.3 lakh Below Poverty Line (BPL) families under the BPSSBY. To implement ‘Modicare’, which offers a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh, the Centre had procured the data of Social Economic and Caste Census (SECC) held in 2011 and offered to cover 14.96-lakh families in Punjab.

Health officials claim that all families to be covered under the ‘Ayushmaan Bharat’ are already beneficiaries of the BPSSBY.

“We respect the SECC data but state government considers all BPL families equally deserving to get benefits. The implementation of Modicare in present form will create a divide. Those covered under this scheme will get a health cover of Rs 5 lakh, whereas the rest will be eligible only for a cover of Rs 50,000,” said a senior health functionary on the condition of anonymity.

Officials said if Punjab government hikes the health cover for all BPSSBY beneficiaries to match that of Modicare, it will have to bear an additional burden of at least Rs 200 crore. The Centre and states share the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ cost at 60:40.

Interestingly, Congress party’s 2017 assembly poll manifesto promised brining a universal health insurance scheme for all residents of Punjab.

To bring down the financial burden, the health department tried to convince the Union health and family welfare ministry to include Punjab in the special category status on par with hilly and north eastern states, which will put the cost-sharing between the Centre and the state at 90:10.

According to information, on August 6, health minister Brahm Mohindra had written to Union health minister JP Nadda to restore the previous arrangement of 75:25 for implementation of central schemes in Punjab.

To bolster his case, Mohindra also cited Punjab being a border state and the prevailing drug problem thereof.

But the request was turned down by Nadda on August 20 citing “extant instructions of finance ministry that is strictly against relaxing the norms for particular scheme for particular state”.

HT has the copy of Nadda’s reply to Punjab.

“As far as implementing Aayushman Bharat is concerned, we are chalking out the modalities as we are already running our own insurance scheme. That is why we are repeatedly requesting the Centre to relax norms for Punjab as this scheme of the Centre will create a divide among the beneficiaries,” said Mohindra.

On September 11, the health minister again wrote to Nadda to reconsider Punjab’s request to include the cost sharing at 75:25. Punjab had initially declined to sign the MoU regarding implementation of the scheme, but agreed later at Nadda’s intervention.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 09:30 IST

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