West Bengal’s decision to exit the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) fold left the National Health Agency (NHA) in a quandary last week, after a cancer patient from the state landed up at a Mumbai hospital for treatment.
Following a prolonged illness and a biopsy, Anant Kumar Roy, a farmer from Sehara village in Bardhaman district, was suspected to have cancer and referred to Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital. There he has been advised a surgery that is covered under PMJAY.
Technically, after West Bengal exited the scheme, a patient from the state is not eligible for the national portability feature, under which, any PMJAY “Gold Card” holder is eligible for free treatment across the country.
After prolonged deliberations and renewed efforts to reach out to the state, Union Health Minister J P Nadda took a decision that Roy should not be denied treatment, albeit as a “special case”.
Ayushman Bharat deputy CEO Dr Dinesh Arora said, “He (Roy) is a farmer. The family has a monthly income of Rs 4,000-5,000 and he has been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. We tried to reach out to the state (West Bengal) because we are yet to have any clarity on whether or not they are reconsidering their decision as we had requested. However, we have not got any response from the state. He may require a series of surgery which will cost Rs 1-2 lakh, and as a special case the minister has taken a decision to allow his treatment.”
On January 10, the Bengal government exited the PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat programme. There is meanwhile another patient from West Bengal currently in Mumbai, who is also seeking treatment. A decision is yet to be taken on him.