WEST BENGAL has joined the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), putting to rest speculation about whether it would do an Odisha by staying away from the ambitious tertiary care mission. On Thursday, it became the 26th state to sign a memorandum of understanding with the National Health Agency for implementation of the NHPM.
Announced in this year’s Budget, the NHPM will provide an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh to 10.74 crore families. According to the MoU, the NHPM will be in West Bengal as an alliance with the state health scheme Swasthya Saathi, under which 40 lakh families are provided an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh.
During a visit to Delhi some time ago, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had cited Swasthya Saathi, and said her state already has a scheme and it made little sense to join the NHPM.
“Currently, West Bengal has a Rs 5 lakh health scheme called Swasthya Saathi that covers 40 lakh people. The state, under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana also gives a cover of Rs 30,000 to about 63 lakh people. We welcome the state to NHPM under which more than one crore people will be covered for 1,350 packages,” said Dr Dinesh Arora, deputy CEO Ayushman Bharat.
The big states which are yet to take a call on the programme are Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Rajasthan and Maharashtra are the only two BJP-ruled states which are yet to make up their minds on the NHPM.
Rajasthan, which has its own Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana, is in the process of sorting out its logistical issues and details about the insurance companies’ contract among other things. Maharashtra, however, has told the Centre that the Rs 22,000 crore farm-loan waiver had left the state scrounging for money to roll out the NHPM.