The Maharashtra government has written to the Centre saying it has taken an “in-principle” decision to join the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), a day before the much-anticipated announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Rs 5-lakh health cover scheme in his Independence Day speech.
Maharashtra had earlier cited financial constraints — following the Rs 22,000-crore farm loan waiver — in joining the NDA government’s flagship health programme, which was announced in the Union budget this year and will cover 10.74 crore families across the country.
In a letter to the National Health Agency, dated August 14, T M Kolekar, Joint Secretary in the Maharashtra public health department wrote: “… Government of Maharashtra has, in principle, decided to participate in the Ayushman Bharat — NHPM, PMRSSM, for SECC identified beneficiaries in Maharashtra for sum assured at Rs 5 lakh(s) per beneficiary family through insurance company on sharing basis with state government sharing the cost @40% of insurance premium.” The state is expected to complete the signing of the MoU with the Centre any day now, said officials in the agency.
The letter paves the way for the mission to cover the entire western belt, where Mumbai is an important centre. NHPM will provide complete national portability, which is why it is important that the big medical centres be a part of it.
“Maharashtra will be the 29th state to sign a memorandum of understanding with us. It is a very prestigious state. With this we have covered the western belt. It is very important for Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli that Maharashtra to be part of the programme. Through portability, residents of those states can avail of medical services in the state,” said Dr Dinesh Arora, Deputy CEO of National Health Agency.
However, for the present, the state has decided to provide the Rs 5 lakh health cover to only 83 lakh people who are eligible for the benefits as per the deprivation criteria listed in the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011.
No call has been taken on whether the beneficiaries of the state health programme would also be eligible for the enhanced health cover.
Maharashtra’s health protection scheme has one of the widest coverages. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana, the flagship health insurance scheme, provides cover of up to Rs 2 lakh for 2.2 crore of the 2.5 crore families in the state. The dilemma for Maharashtra has been — and that delayed its decision — that it cannot leave the current beneficiaries out of NHPM if it adopts the scheme. On the other hand, to extend a Rs 5 lakh health cover to the entire lot would mean a huge financial commitment.
The current scheme runs on annual premium of Rs 700 per family. Now that the state has decided to join NHPM, the Centre will give 60% of the premium for only 83 lakh families in the state that meet the criteria for inclusion in NHPM.