The government will control the beneficiaries of the health card – Journal

LAHORE: Punjab government to control beneficiaries of health card scheme and withdraw service from those who can afford medical treatment on their own; however, he has yet to explain the criteria for doing so.

Addressing a post-budget press conference here on Friday, Punjab Finance Minister Sardar Awais Khan Leghari said the government would remove from the scheme those who could afford medical treatment themselves but were also registered with the health card system. “Those who are more deserving would be added to this scheme,” he added. However, he did not talk about the criteria for removing or adding the names in the schema. On the other hand, he said that the government has increased more than Rs 50 billion for the health sector in the budget.

“The health card was a project launched by the PML-N government. But the PTI government tried to take credit for its launch,” Mr Leghari said.

He was accompanied by Justice Minister Malik Ahmad Khan, Planning and Development Department Chairman Ali Sarfraz Hussain and other senior officers.

Minister says ‘affluent people’ will be removed from program

Speaking to Dawn, a finance department official said the program would continue until June 30 since the PTI government had already paid the premium to the insurance company.

“The current government is of the view that in the PTI health card system, everyone is eligible and many wealthy people take advantage of this facility. But from July, the government will start reviewing the beneficiaries of the scheme and removing those who do not deserve to benefit,” he explained.

“However, the criteria have yet to be finalized by the government,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official source, when asked to comment on the government’s plan to vet beneficiaries of the health card system, questioned how the government would know about beneficiaries’ financial status at a time when even those who receive good salaries cannot afford major medical treatment due to inflation.

When contacted, the chairman of the planning and development department, Ali Sarfraz Hussain, said the criteria for reviewing health card beneficiaries would soon be worked out.

“At present, everyone (rich, middle class and poor) enrolled in the program benefits from this facility. But the PML-N government does not want to follow the same model in the future as it wants to take this facility away from the wealthy and use the insurance premium only for deserving people,” he said, adding that the data of the deserving persons under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) could be one of the tools to examine the eligibility of beneficiaries.

“Let’s see what the government prefers to do in this regard,” he said.

Posted in Dawn, June 18, 2022

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