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Punjab Government Extends Universal Healthcare to 43 Lakh Families

The Punjab government on October 17 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the center to implement the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) in the state, extending the central government scheme to cover over 43 lakh families, instead of the proposed 14.96 lakh. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh described the move as a historic one that would bring healthcare within the reach of every needy person in the state, an official statement said. It may be recalled that the Punjab Cabinet had on October 3 gave in-principle approval to merge the state-run health insurance scheme, Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana (BPSSBY), with PMJAY, while extending the existing cover of ₹50,000 per year per family to ₹5 lakh to all 43 lakh of the total 61 lakh families in the state. It had also decided to extend the period of the BPSSBY, expiring on October 31, to December 31.

The MoU was signed in the presence of the chief minister by Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Satish Chandra, on behalf of the state government, with Ayushman Bharat CEO Dr Indu Bhushan. Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Brahm Mohindra said the state government would take further steps to strengthen capacity building in the health sector. The central scheme, to be launched on January 1, 2019, would include 14.96 lakh families in the state entitled as per the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) of 2011. The state government will, at its own cost under the state health insurance program, cover 28.20 lakh more families, including Blue card holders, J-form holders, construction workers and small traders’ families, thus bringing the total to 43.16 lakh families under the ambit of its health insurance cover, the statement said.

A pilot project would be launched in three government hospitals before the official launch, the statement added. The cost of the central scheme covering 14.96 families will be shared between the government of India and the state in the ratio of 60:40, for which the estimated share of the state works out to about ₹65 crore, whereas ₹97 crore would be contributed by the Center, it said. Insurance cover for the remaining 28.20 lakh families would be borne by the state at an estimated cost of ₹220 crore. In all, the state government would be spending a total of ₹285 crore, the statement said. – Money Control