The Pinarayi Vijayan government's decision to discontinue Karunya Benevolent Fund (KBF) health scheme for the weaker sections in Kerala has been strongly opposed by the Congress-led opposition in the state.
The Kerala government came out with an order on January 10, stating that a health scheme of the Central government will replace KBF scheme.
Addressing reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said on Thursday that this was a flagship programme of the previous Oommen Chandy government.
"Not a single rupee was sought from the government for this scheme, as the funds came from the Kerala government lottery. It was then state Finance Minister K.M. Mani, who came out with this scheme during 2011-16, and the weaker sections of the society availed facilities worth over Rs 800 crore. After this government came, Rs 1,048 crore was also given to various hospitals both in public and private sector for treating critical diseases," said Chennithala.
Under the new scheme, any person desirous of availing healthcare facilities will have to take an insurance policy, the premium for which would be paid by the state and Central governments.
"Under the KBF, no one eligible to be covered under the scheme had to sign or take any insurance... only a certificate from the treating hospital was required. Under the new scheme, only those who take the insurance policy will be getting free treatment and anyone who gets an ailment without having an insurance scheme will not get any cover," the Congress leader pointed out.
Also, while under the KBF, no questions were asked to the patient, in the new scheme, everyone would be at the mercy of insurance companies, said Chennithala.
The funds for the KBF had been raised through a special "Karunya Lottery", and the proceeds were diverted for meeting the medical expenses of the target sections.
"What's strange is that while the Vijayan government has stopped the KBF, they are still continuing with the Karunya Lottery. Let the KBF and the new scheme run parallel," said Chennithala.