By now, you probably know that the Narendra Modi government has cut off the provision of healthcare in all states.
But do you know what it means for those who have been waiting for help?
The Health Ministry had last week announced that in the next two months, it will stop providing all healthcare to people over the age of 65 in the country.
The decision was taken in response to the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Kolkata High Court ruling that said the government could not stop providing healthcare to those under the age 65 due to “social security reasons”.
The Government’s decision came after a petition by a private medical provider called The Health Insurance Company of India (HICCI), which claims to have covered more than 1,000,000 patients over the past 15 years, including many in Kolkatta, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
It has argued that it was necessary to take steps in order to safeguard the rights of those who cannot afford healthcare.
The HICCI is part of the private sector that provides health insurance to citizens.
In its petition, the private health insurance company said that, under the government’s scheme, people over 65 would get free or subsidised medical care from July 1.
The petition also alleged that, for those over 65, the government had given a “blanket exemption” on the purchase of medical supplies.
But in a letter to the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, Dr Rakesh Sankaran, the managing director of the HICCI, said that the ministry had decided to withdraw the blanket exemption, after it was asked to do so by a senior member of the ministry.
Dr Sankaran said that “a blanket exemption was never given by the ministry of health in the past”.
He further said that he had sought a “dramatic clarification” from the ministry about whether it was actually “a policy to stop providing free medical care to all the age groups”.
“The ministry of Health should explain its rationale for cancelling the blanket relief,” Dr Sankan said in his letter.
“The blanket relief is meant for the people under 65 years of age.
It should be withdrawn.””
A blanket exemption is not the policy to block the people from accessing healthcare,” he added.
On Monday, the health ministry asked the Hicci to provide an explanation on the blanket-exemption decision.
“We are aware that some persons have raised questions on the validity of the blanket waiver and we will take action accordingly,” the ministry said in a statement.
Dr Rakesho, who is also a member of India’s Parliament from Kolketta, said the decision is not acceptable.
“If the blanket provision is being extended to the age group of 65, it is clear that the blanket has been extended to everyone under 65, including those who are in poverty,” he said.