Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has urged Union Minister of Health Ghulam Nabi Azad to waive the service tax to be charged on the Rs.517-crore investment in the State governments health insurance scheme.
The State government had committed itself to pay the premiums on behalf of the poor to enable them to access private health institutions for life-saving treatments, Mr. Karunanidhi said.
The service tax component for this amounted to Rs. 48 crore, he said, urging the Minister to waive this amount. While he did not expect an immediate commitment, he promised to write to the Minister hoping that he would be able to convince the Finance Ministry to waive the tax.
He made the request at the inauguration of the Kalaignar Insurance Scheme for Life Saving Treatments for One Crore Poor Families by Mr. Azad here on Thursday evening.
He promised that the scheme would come to the assistance of people who are in dire need of the services. In fact, the scheme was only the next step to the free heart surgery schemes for young children and students, he added.
He hoped that the scheme would be replicated all over the country so that poor people in the rest of the States would benefit without paying the premium.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Azad commended Tamil Nadu for being one of the forerunnersin healthcare services in the country.
Feather in the cap
The insurance scheme would be one more feather in the cap of the State government, led by Mr. Karunanidhi.
He said the UPA was committed to inclusive growth, and human development was at the heart of its strategy.
The National Rural Health Mission was launched in 2005 to bring in large-scale reforms in the provision of health care services, Mr. Azad said, commending Tamil Nadu for implementing the NRHM in letter and spirit.
The Union Minister complimented the States imaginative use of untied funds provided under the scheme to achieve a high rate of institutional deliveries.
More pregnant women were preferring government PHCs over private clinics for their delivery, and the percentage had gone up by 15 per cent, the highest in the country.
He said the Centre had allocated a sum of Rs.100 crore to develop the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Chennai, as a centre of excellence for good practices in reproductive child health; and Rs.250 crore for the Plasma Fractionation Centre.
Deputy Chief Minister M.K.Stalin, Finance Minister K.Anbazhagan, Union Minister of State for Health S. Gandhiselvan, former Anna University Vice-Chancellor V.C.Kulandaiswamy and S.Thanikachalam, director, Heart Care Centre, Sri Ramachandra University, offered felicitations. Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam and Principal Secretary, Health, V.K.Subburaj presented the highlights of the scheme.