Addressing a seminar on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah criticised West Bengal (WB) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for not permitting the Ayushman Bharat scheme in WB. It is the Centre’s flagship health programme. He alleged that Banerjee did not allow the distribution of the cards related to the scheme. He further claimed that the WB CM was apprehensive of the increase in popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shah opined, “There is so much heat in Bengal. PM Modi has waived off all health facilities till Rs. 5,00,000 for the country’s poor under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. But in Bengal, Mamata Di does not allow Ayushman Bharat to reach here. Trinamool Congress’s workers snatch away the cards from the postman. If a Bengali person is in Gujarat, he has to pay from his own pocket for treatment. Bengal’s poor person cannot afford the treatment of his mother. Similarly, a mother cannot treat her son."
"Tell me, the poor in the entire country are availing medicines and treatment up to Rs.5,00,000 from the Indian government’s expenditure. Don’t the people of West Bengal have the same right? Mamata Di does not let the distribution of cards happen, for she fears that PM Modi’s popularity will increase,” he said.
PM Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat scheme a year ago on September 23, 2018, from Ranchi. It aims to provide free healthcare insurance of Rs.5,00,000 per family to more than 100 million poor and vulnerable families. This accounts for nearly 40% of the population. More than 18,236 hospitals have been empanelled, with 53% of them falling in the private sector. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, approximately 46.4 lakh treatments in hospitals worth Rs.7,500 crore have been carried out in one year. 60% of this amount has been spent on tertiary care.
Recently, the Indian Medical Association called upon the government to remove public hospitals from the ambit of Ayushman Bharat. On Monday, the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan made public the name of 111 hospitals indulging in malpractices pertaining to the implementation of this scheme.