Odisha Willing to Join NHPS if Its Concerns Are Addressed: CM
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Bhubaneswar, Jun 18 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that the state is willing to join the Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) if its concerns are addressed.

"...We will still be willing to consider joining AB-NHPS in due course if the concerns of the state are addressed adequately," Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A copy of the letter was released to the media by the state government.

Though he (Patnaik) did not attend the Governing Council Meeting of Niti Aayog on June 16, he had written a letter to Modi on the state's issues.

Patnaik's letter to Modi is significant in the backdrop of state Health minister Pratap Jena announcing that Odisha would not join the AB-NHPS as the state's demands are not met by the Centre.

While the Centre agreed to include only 61 lakh families in AB-NHPS, Odisha's requirement was 70 lakh families, Jena had said, adding that the state government therefore announced Biju Swastha Kalyan Yojana to provide health assurance to its people.

While noting that announcement of the AB-NHPS was a welcome step, Patnaik said the dependence of the scheme on SECC (Soci-Economic Caste Census-2011) data will be a serious handicap in achieving the goal of near universal coverage.

"As you will agree, the SECC survey done on the criteria fixed by the UPA government has grave lacunae and many genuine poor have been left out," Patnaik said in the letter.

"Due to this reason, whenever our state has implemented any programme, we have gone for near universal coverage - as scheme like Mamata, Rural Housing, State pension for old age and also NFSA," Patnaik said, adding that about 40 lakh people (8 lakh families) who are already covered under Health Assistance Schemes of Odisha will be left out if the state take SECC data as a base.

Patnaik said: "We had put forth our concerns regarding genuine beneficiaries being left out. The CEO, PMRSSM has informed that it is not possible to go beyond the ambit of SECC data."

Stating that Odisha government has a mandate of providing near universal health coverage, Patnaik said: "In view of same out government has announced a health assurance scheme which will cover 70 lakh families of the state."

Patnaik in the letter also reiterated the state's demand of special category status in view high percentage of ST and SC population in Odisha.

As the state is also facing frequent natural calamities, it deserve to be accorded "special category status" to fast track the ongoing development and may be treated at par with North-Eastern and Himalayan states for the sharing pattern of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, he said.

Patnaik also said that in order to relieve the farmers from agrarian distress, the country should have a National Policy on Loan Waiver.

"The state government would be willing to support any initiative taken by the central government in this direction," he said adding that the Government of India should consider creation of a Credit Guarantee Trust for Agriculture on the line of Credit Guarantee Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises.

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