Centre starts talks to bring West Bengal back into Ayushman Bharat

0
312
Mamata Banerjee, Ayushman Bharat
Mamata Banerjee

“We are withdrawing from Ayushman Bharat,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday

 

One day after West Bengal government announced its withdrawal from Ayushman Bharat, the National Health Agency, which is the implementing authority for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, is negotiating with the state government. However the state government is unlikely to relent short of a renaming of the scheme and a reformatting of the offending letter with prime minister Narendra Modi’s photo, sources say.

In a rally in Krishnanagar in West Bengal, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday: “Today we are withdrawing from the Ayushman Bharat scheme…The Centre is sending letters to people from post offices saying that it has done health insurance for them. How can they take credit when the state governments bear 40 per cent of the cost for this scheme?”

This makes West Bengal the fourth state to be out of the scheme. Delhi, Odisha and Telangana never opted for the ambitious plan to provide a Rs 5 lakh health cover to 10.74 crore families across the country. So far around one crore people have been enrolled under the scheme in West Bengal and the state scheme has 40 lakh beneficiaries. Rs 176.56 crore has been released to the state of which administrative expenses come to Rs 16.78 crore.

With Delhi already out, Kolkata which is the preferred destination for many people from the northeast and from states such as Bihar, officials fear it could mean much more than just the number of beneficiaries in that state

The letter  dated January 10 that the state government sent to the Centre reads: “…the MoU of JAY signed between government of West Bengal and government of India clearly stipulated that since West Bengal already had a well-established scheme Swasthyasathi, the state government would like to retain the name Swasthyasathi in the scheme…To our surprise the entitlement letter/card issued by your ministry mentions the name of the scheme as PMJAY which is not only a violation of the stipulations of the said MoU but has created confusion at the grassroots level.”

West Bengal had already stopped giving data to the National Health Agency for some time now and sources said a high level official visit was “being stalled” by the state government for three weeks now.

Said a source: “For many days now state officials were even refusing to come on the phone.” For NHA the pullout is a major setback because it affects the national portability pf the scheme. With Delhi already out, Kolkata which is the preferred destination for many people from the northeast and from states such as Bihar, officials fear it could mean much more than just the number of beneficiaries in that state.