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PBT’s PIL Against “Swasthya Sathi”: Bengal Govt. Files Affidavit With Stunning Claims

Bengal health department has filed an affidavit in Calcutta HC this week in response to PBT’s PIL against numerous flaws in the much hyped Swasthya Sathi health scheme by Mamata Banerjee’s government. While not providing any answers to the specific points raised in the PIL, e.g. how the budget increased since declaration of “universal” coverage under Swasthya Sathi for all residents to receive free treatment up to Rs. 5 lakh, government has made some startling submissions including:

A) More than 2.3 crore Bengal residents are now covered under Swasthya Sathi with a huge surge since universal coverage starting on December 2, 2020 as only about 2.5 lakh residents were covered until that point. However, Govt. has admitted that people who had Swasthya Sathi prior to December 2, 2020 would be covered under the “INSURANCE” mode while those vast majority who got Swasthya Sathi after December 2, 2020 would be covered under “ASSURANCE” mode.

B) Nobody can be refused treatment whether they are able to produce Swasthya Sathi card or not. Many private hospitals and nursing home across W.B. routinely refuse to treat patients unless they pay with cash in front. PBT has already filed a supplementary affidavit listing many such patients who have come to PBT after being refused treatment or compelled to pay out of their own pocket despite having the Swasthya Sathi card.

C) Govt. has also claimed that they are providing Rs. 5 lakh/year for Swasthya Sathi on a “floater basis” (page 4, para vi). It means that a single member of the family may use the entire Rs. 5 lakh if required. Question – what will happen to the other members of the family if any of them become sick?

PBT is to bring all these and other unanswered points before the Cal HC when this matter will come up for next hearing on May 2, 2022.

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