Rs 750 crore Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana launched

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New Delhi, Oct 1 (UNI) Close on the heels of expanding the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme to the entire country, the Government today launched an ambitious over Rs 750 crore Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana for the BPL families, one of the three major schemes to benefit the 370 million people in the unorganised sector.

The other two projects which are to be unveiled are the Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana and the Old Age Pension Scheme. While the former will be launched in Shimla tomorrow on Gandhi Jayanti, the other would be launched later.

Releasing the guidelines for the Yojana, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said ''there would be no paucity of funds for the scheme, which would benefit over 30 million people.'' The beneficiaries will be issued Smart Cards which will facilitate cashless transaction upto Rs 30,000 so that the worker does not have to pay anything for seeking medical treatment.

The BPL worker and his family, five in total, will be covered under the scheme.

The Finance Minister said as many as 18 state governments had given their consent to be partners of the ''Cashless scheme'' thereby meaning that the beneficiaries would not have to pay any premium at all.

He told reporters the Scheme would become operational in 2008-09 as the states needed at least six months to identify the health and insurance providers.

''We would like the private institutions also to participate in the scheme,'' he said, adding that he wanted the scheme to come out as a ''model and outstanding scheme for the BPL families in the developing countries.'' To another question, the Minister said the benefit was meant for the family of five members and not more. ''However, the family has to bear the cost of the Smart Card of one time payment of Rs 30 only.'' Asked how the government would meet the 3.5 per cent of the budget deficit arising from the imeplmentaiton of the scheme, Mr Chidambaram said, ''We will meet all the targets.'' Labour and Employment Minister Oscar Fernandes denied that the government had mid-term polls on its mind. ''The government had already made a commitment in the CMP. A comprehensive Bill has already been introduced in Parliament for this purpose.'' The Finance Minister, while elaborating on the three schemes for the unorganised sector, observed that the people working in the unofficial sector are the ''worst affected'', while the employees in the government and the organised sector were much better off.

The highlights of the Yojana are -- all the BPL families in the unorganised sector are to be covered in the next five years; the Centre is to contribute 75 per cent of the annual premium; the states are to give a share of 25 per cent; the administrative costs are to be borne by the state governments and all pre existing diseases are to be covered.

Delhi Labour and Industry Minister Mangat Ram Singhal, was handed over the first copy of the guidelines. Labour Secretary Sudha Pillai said all the BPL families in the unorganised sector will be covered in the next five years under the Scheme.

UNI

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