License of pvt hospitals to be cancelled if they don't accept state-run health scheme card: Mamata

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Ranaghat (WB), Jan 11 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday warned private hospitals and nursing homes of license cancellation if they refuse to acknowledge her government's Swasthya Sathi health card from a patient.

She drew parallels between her government's health programme and the Centre's 'Ayushman Bharat', saying the Union government runs its scheme on 60:40 ratio, while the state fully funds people under 'Swasthya Sathi'.

'If anyone (private hospitals and nursing homes) refuses to provide healthcare facilities under the 'Swasthya Sathi' scheme, the government has the power to cancel its license. This health scheme is for the poor. No one should harass the poor,' Banerjee said, urging people to lodge a police complaint in the face of any harassment.

Various reports have suggested that some hospitals have refused to accept the 'Swasthya Sathi' cards -- a health scheme launched in 2016 to provide a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per annum to eligible families for secondary and tertiary care.

With an eye on 2021 assembly polls, however, Banerjee, in November 2020, extended the cashless health benefit to every citizen in the state.

'There are many top-notch hospitals which have refused to accept the government's 'Swasthya Sathi' health card on occasions. We want to tell them that they do not have an option. Even small nursing homes in the districts, too, have to accept the cards,' she said.

'We are also enlisting smaller nursing homes in the districts under this health scheme so that citizens can avail facilities close to their residence. We would also speak to them, and the state's chief secretary will meet them so that no person is harassed,' Banerjee said.

Talking about the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme, Banerjee wondered who would pay the remaining the 40 per cent money for availing the scheme.

'The Centre pays only 60 per cent of the cost incurred for Ayushman Bharat. Who will pay the rest? If common people need to pay 40 per cent of the expenses for a Rs 5-lakh scheme, why will people opt for that? Our Swasthya Sathi scheme is 100 per cent funded by the state,' she said.

The BJP leadership, while reacting to her claims, called the state's health scheme a 'complete bluff'.

'We have heard reports that the TMC government is pressuring private hospitals to accept the scheme, at least for a few months. After elections, no one knows if people would be able to avail the scheme,' senior BJP leader and MP Locket Chatterjee said. PTI PNT RMS RMS