P Chidambaram should not be taken seriously, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said today, after the Congress leader termed the Budget announcement on a new national health protection programme a "big jumla (rhetoric)".
The Congress leader yesterday found holes in the Union government's budgetary promises on providing insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor families.
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Today, the former finance minister again took a dig at the programme, saying a scheme without money was like "flying a kite without a string".
"I think Mr Chidambaram should not be taken seriously," Nadda told reporters.
He said this was a "historic and revolutionary" step. "This is the first time in history that any government has shown such a courage. I would want that you praise it. We stand committed to it (implementing the scheme)."
Touted to be the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme, the scheme is aimed at benefiting 10 crore poor families by providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
Chidambaram yesterday said that the promise of Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare was a "big jumla". "The target group is 10 crore families. There is, as yet, no scheme," he had said.
He had said that assuming that each family will avail Rs 50,000, the amount required per year will be Rs 5 lakh crore. "Is the FM serious?" Chidambaram had asked.
Finances will never be a problem for NHPS: Nadda
Seeking to allay concerns about the funding of the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) announced in the budget, Nadda said finances would never be a problem and the Centre was working out the blueprint of the programme.
Touted to be the world's largest government-funded health care programme, the scheme is aimed at benefiting 10 crore poor families by providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary healthcare.
Nadda said no date for the roll out of the scheme had been fixed, but it would be done "very soon".
It's a "revolutionary and courageous" budget wherein "bold" decisions have been taken. It's a friendly budget for all sections of society, he said.
'Namocare' deals with primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare "comprehensively", and the government is committed to rolling it out, the minister said.
"We will give the details but not today. We are working on the nitty-gritties. We have to work that out with all other departments as well," Nadda told reporters when asked how the government would go about implementing 'Namocare'.
Every aspect of the scheme "has been calculated... We have made all arrangements for it". The details will be shared only when the government is ready to launch it, he said.
"It's not only an insurance. There are many models which we are going to work out. We will come up with a full programme. We are going fast on it," he said.
The scheme will also bring a change in the socio-economic scenario. It will increase the productivity of the common man, he said.
Nadda said the government will pay for the "premium for the NHPS with state's share. Rs 2,000 crore has been kept for it as of now".
"History is witness that whatever we (the BJP-led government) have committed to, we have completed. That's why finance is not a problem, has never been a problem and will never remain a problem," he said.
With PTI Inputs