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The right to health or Universal health coverage- A game-changer in the Lok Sabha polls according to Congress. The party is expecting that the Universal health coverage will bring the same kind of impact that the Right to Education and the MNREGA have had for the UPA in the past. This coverage hopes the promise of free medical tests and medicine at government hospitals, health insurance for the entire population, etc, will pay electoral dividends. The public expenditure on health stands at 1.2% of GDP and increasing it up to 3% will be the target of party if it comes to power.
This is a landmark step which the congress manifesto is likely to pitch.
The party's rights-based agenda will be pushed forward through the ‘right to health’, according to the vice-president of congress, Rahul Gandhi.
The unleashing of electoral sop of free medicines in Rajasthan however did not provide any benefit to the Congress in the Assembly polls because of poor and delayed implementation. A promise of underwriting 100% health care expenses has convinced the party now that it would click with the masses. A National Health Mission is likely to be proposed under the health care section that will cover rural as well as urban areas.
Promises that Congress has committed:
Launched by the labour ministry, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana only covers below poverty-line families. Now, a National Health Insurance Programme is likely to be introduced that will cover the entire population. It would put in place a cashless prepaid insurance scheme for all. Five mobile vans for each district will ensure the reach of medical facilities to remote areas. Apart from this, six million jobs will be created by the party in the health sector by 2020.
The party has been discussing the possibility of providing shelter for all citizens as emphasising the social sector is an integral part of the inclusive development agenda of Congress. But, such a proposal will have financial implications which have limited Congress to settle for committing that the party will work towards giving housing for all.
There is also a proposal for the expansion of the Indira Awas Yojana in rural areas and the Rajiv Awas Yojana in urban areas. Rahul Gandhi had a word with salt workers in Gujarat recently putting forward his notion of development that the party will not only make roads but also houses for them.
The party has also promised to provide education loans without security to Scs, Sts and OBCs. Also, skill development vouchers worth Rs 20, 000 for students from weaker sections and universal access to Rajiv gandhi Research fellowships.
The party will propose implementation of the Manual Scavenging prohibition bill. The UPA has succeeded in getting passed this bill. The congress will also push for the implementation of the 4% reservation for small enterprises that are owned by SC/STs in government procurement. The congress in addition hopes to reverse the outcomes of pessimistic electoral that pollsters predict.