West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said people in this state were being deprived of the benefits of the Centre’s flagship health scheme – Ayushman Bharat Yojana — and stressed that “such matters should not be politicised”.
The governor also claimed that he had received around 3000 applications from all over the state, seeking immediate medical assistance.
“It has not been 100 days since I have taken charge as the governor. And l have received around 3000 applications from all over the state seeking medical assistance during this period. I have examined these applications and found out that they were all eligible for Centre’s Ayushman scheme,” Dhankhar said on the sidelines of a programme here.
“I have also come to know that the applicants could have taken benefits of state-run schemes. Despite that if they are writing to the Raj Bhavan then there was something that needed to be looked into,” he stated.
Dhankhar claimed that he wanted to reach out to the ones in need but his funds were limited. “The governor has a large heart but a small fund of Rs two crores… while an MP gets about Rs 5 crore. In most states, MLAs have Rs two to four crores (as funds). Here (in West Bengal), I have been told that MLAs have a fund of Rs 60 crores. Of the Rs two crores that have been allotted to me, I have about 18 items to deal with,” he maintained.
The swelling number of applications reflected the state of healthcare situation in West Bengal, Dhankar said. “If I am getting 3000 applications in three months, seeking health assistance, it is definitely reflective of the state of situation in the state,” he asserted. “I somehow find it incongruous why a central scheme that makes available such a great facility, which has been recognised all over the world, is not being adopted here for the benefit of people,” he stated.
The Ayushman Bharat Yojana, launched in 2018, provides an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of Empanelled Health Care Providers. There is no cap on family size and age. The state government pulled out of the scheme in January this year, accusing the Narendra Modi-led NDA government of making “tall claims” under the programme.
The governor, who has been at loggerheads with the Mamata Banerjee government over several issues, said not everything should be politicized. “Health should be kept above politics. Access to healthcare facilities should not be denied to people on account of their financial situation,” he maintained.
The governor insisted that those in power should work in harmony for the benefit of commoners. “If a big benefit can be made available to a citizen, the ‘aam aadmi’ of state, then people (policy makers) should work in harmony to ensure that he gets it. Every rupee that can help the people of West Bengal matters. In a federal system, if help comes from the Centre, we must accept it.”
The West Bengal government had in 2016 floated a Group Health Protection scheme – ‘Swasthya Sathi’ – which offers financial coverage up to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum per family through insurance mode for secondary and tertiary care and up to Rs 5 lakh for critical diseases such as cancer and cardiological diseases through assurance mode.
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