West Bengal Opts out of ‘Modicare’, Why ‘Waste’ Funds, Asks Mamata

“The Centre has drawn up a health plan in which 40% of the fund has to come from states. But why should the state spend on another programme when it already has its own?”

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The West Bengal government on Tuesday became the first state to opt out of the Centre’s health care insurance plan – now being dubbed ‘Modicare’. While presenting the Union Budget earlier this month, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) that seeks to provide health insurance of Rs 5 Lakh to ten crore households.

Bengal however has chosen not to be part of this central project. Addressing a public meeting in Krishnanagar on Tuesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the state will not “waste” its hard-earning resources in contributing to the programme, reported the Times of India.

“The Centre has drawn up a health plan in which 40% of the fund has to come from states. But why should the state spend on another programme when it already has its own? A state will have its own scheme if it has the resources,” Banerjee said.

Under the NHPS, the central government will contribute Rs 2,000 crore to the scheme out of a total cost of Rs 5,500-6,000 crore – the remaining amount is to be paid by the state governments.

The West Bengal chief minister said that the state has already made hospitalisation and medical treatment free for its citizens and sees no point in spending on a separate programme. She said that the state government has already enrolled 50 lakh people under its Swasthya Sathi programme, reported the Times of India.  “We have done it even after the Centre takes away Rs 48,000 crore a year for debt-servicing the loan liability left behind by the preceding CPM government,” she said.

Also read: Budget 2018: Jaitley’s ‘World’s Largest Health Programme’ Rejigs Flailing Old Ones

At the meeting, Banerjee criticised the Centre for allocating only Rs 100 crore for the countrywide Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme. “Look at the financial allocations in the project. Rs 100 crore for all over India. Which means Rs 3 crore for my state which has a population of 10 crore. So per person allocation would be Rs 0.30,” she said, adding that she has already spent Rs 1,200 crore in providing education to girls in the state, reported The Week.

Banerjee also attacked the central government for its economic policies, demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST), and its policy on farmers. “They took away homemakers’ lakshmi’r bhanr (piggy banks) during demonetisation, brought everyone under GST and dealt a blow to small traders and businessmen. Now they are eying fixed deposits,” she said.

Appealing to people to vote for Trinamool Congress candidates in the upcoming panchayat elections, she said the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Maharashtra has seen the highest farmer death toll, while the Bengal government has allocated a sum of Rs 1,200 crore to help the families of nearly 30 lakh whose crops have been damaged.

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