Punjab Update

Chandigarh, October 17: Punjab on Wednesday became the first state in the country to provide universal health cover, extending its insurance cover to Rs. 5 lakh per year per family to all the eligible 43 lakh families in the state, while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Centre for implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY) for 14.96 lakh families.

With this, the Congress-run state government has fulfilled a key poll promise to the people of Punjab. Captain Amarinder Singh described it as a historic moment that would bring health care within the reach of every needy person in the state.

It may be recalled that the Punjab Cabinet, in its meeting held on October 3, had in-principle approved merger of the state-run health insurance scheme Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana (BPSSBY) with PMJAY, while extending the existing cover of Rs. 50,000 per year per family to Rs. 5 Lacs per year per family to all the eligible 43 lakh families in the state. It had also decided to extend the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna, which was to expire on 31st October, 2018, upto 31st December, 2018.

The MoU with the Centre was signed today in the presence of the Chief Minister by ACS Health Satish Chandra, on behalf of the state government, with CEO Ayushman Bharat Dr. Indu Bhushan.

Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Brahm Mohindra said the state government would take further such steps to strengthen capacity building in the health sector so as to enable all its citizens to avail timely and efficient health care services. He reiterated Punjab’s demand for 90:10 ratio in the Centre:State sharing formula, given the sensitive border location of Punjab.

Dr. Bhushan hailed the state leadership for going beyond the central initiative to extend health insurance cover to the majority of the state’s population.

In response to a suggestion for a new name for the various schemes being merged, it was decided to take a final decision next month.

Giving details, an official spokesperson said the state government would, at its own cost under the State Health Insurance Programme, cover 28.20 Lakh more families including Blue card holders, J form holders, construction workers, small trader families, thus bringing a total of 43.16 lakh state families under the ambit of its health insurance cover including 20.30 Lakh blue card holder families covered under the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna.

The central scheme, to be launched on January 1, 2019, would include 14.96 lakh families in the state entitled as per ‘socio-economic caste census’ (SECC) of 2011. The cost of the scheme shall be shared between the Government of India and the State Government in the ratio of 60:40, for which estimated State’s share works out to about Rs. 65 crores, whereas Rs. 97 crores would be contributed by the Government of India. A pilot would be launched in three government hospitals before the official launch on January 1, according to an official spokesperson.

Simultaneously, the remaining 28.20 Lakh families would include 20.30 lakh poor blue card holder families, currently being covered under Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna (BSSBY), at an estimated cost of Rs. 220 crores to the State.

In addition, 5.66 lakh J-Form holder farmers, 1.22 lakh construction workers, and 1.02 lakh small trader families would also be covered at an cost of Rs. 86 Crores, which would be borne by Punjab Mandi Board (Rs.62 crores), Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (Rs.13 crores) and Excise & Taxation Department (Rs.11 crores). In all, the State Government would be spending a total of Rs. 285 crores, including its share of Rs. 65 Crores for the Central scheme and Rs. 220 Crores under the state scheme.

Accordingly, PMJAY and the State’s own Scheme shall be covering a total of 43.16 lakh families out of 61 lakh families in the State i.e. 70% population of Punjab for cashless and free treatment upto Rs.5 lakh. If State, Central Government and Defence employees, who are already covered under various Government schemes are also added, then the coverage would go upto 82%.

Those present at the event included Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Deputy CEO Ayushman Bharat Dr. Dinesh Arora, Mission Director NHM Amit Kumar and Chairman PHSC Amardeep Singh Cheema.

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