The Telegraph
Thursday , December 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM health cover for poor eyes early debut

Ranchi, Dec. 19: Over 10 lakh Jharkhand families living below poverty line are likely to get health insurance cover under Mukhyamantri Swasthya Bima Yojana as a New Year gift, a scheme that will function in tandem with Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and borrow most of its features.

The labour department, slated to execute it, has cleared the proposal. The file will now get the nod from the chief secretary and chief minister.

As the idea to extend health insurance cover to every BPL family was mooted by chief minister Arjun Munda, it is likely that the scheme — aimed at benefiting 1,045,233 families — will see a speedy debut.

This year, the Centre will issue 64KB smart cards under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana — the 32KB variant was used earlier — and new software to effectively check misuse by private hospitals and insurance companies. Cards will be valid for three years. The chief minister’s health insurance scheme will replicate these technicalities.

“Introducing an entirely new kind of health insurance scheme in the state, totally different from the national one, would have been another time-taking process,” labour minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary, under whose supervision the scheme would be executed, said.

The 10-lakh-plus BPL families targeted don’t figure on the Centre’s health insurance list. So far, they only get foodgrain from the state government at subsidised rates.

Executed by Jharkhand State Labour Welfare Society, smart cards will be issued to enable the poor to smoothly avail benefits of this insurance cover. Like in Chhattisgarh, smart cards may also double up as entitlement passes for public distribution system and government-sponsored welfare schemes.

This health insurance scheme will also see the entry of steel behemoth Tatas as a private partner. While getting their land lease deed renewed in 2005, the Tatas had agreed to contribute Rs 25 crore per annum for 30 years towards health insurance scheme.

But the scheme could not take off then due to lapses on the part of the official machinery. Last year, land revenue minister Mathura Prasad objected to it. Then began another tussle between health minister Hemlal Murmu and labour minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary on who would have the final say.

Finally, it was agreed that the scheme should be executed under the supervision of the labour department as it also had the experience of implementing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana in the state.

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