Meghalaya Assembly committee asks govt to review rates for COVID-19 test


Shillong: The Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment has asked the state government to reconsider the rates for COVID-19 test and to fast track over 57,000 pending applications for ration cards.

The suggestions were made during a meeting convened by the Committee on Women Empowerment (CWE) chairperson Ampareen Lyngdoh with officials of the health department and food civil supplies and consumer affairs department here.

The issues related to the implementation of the Meghalaya Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS), review of the rate of COVID-19 tests and the various schemes of the Government of India under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) were discussed in the meeting.

“We have requested both departments to immediately look into the urgency to ensure that people of the state do not face hardships… Thousands of people have come back to the state after leaving their jobs in other states. They are left out of MHIS and NFSA which are very important for the people of the state,” Lyngdoh told reporters on Friday.

Regarding the NFSA, the CWE chairperson said there are over 21,45,015 beneficiaries who are covered under NFSA and non-NFSA schemes in the state of which rural coverage is 77.79 per cent and urban coverage 50.87 per cent.

The committee found that of the total of 57,083 pending applications, 11,108 are in East Khasi Hills district alone.

“Having seen this, we have requested the department to fast-track all these pending applications so that at least within the quota that the government of Meghalaya received under the NFSA, whoever has been left out from the system can be included,” she said.

The CWE chairperson said the MHIS scheme coverage is inadequate.

She said the MHIS coverage is only 53.97 per cent in East Khasi Hills district, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state while in other districts affected by the pandemic like Ri Bhoi and North Garo Hills it is 49.6 per cent and 47.35 per cent respectively.

The state government has recently announced that COVID-19 test would not be free from October 16 and people will have to pay Rs 3,200 for RT-PCR, CBNAAT and Truenat and Rs 500 for Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Only those with BPL card will not have to pay for COVID-19 test.

Lyngdoh said the rate fixed for the COVID-19 test is on the higher side.

CWE member and Mawsynram MLA, Himalaya Shangpliang said the committee has asked the department and the government not to look at this issue on a commercial basis but to reconsider these rates.

“The committee has asked the health department to review the cost of the COVID test and to reconsider the rates or if the government can chip in by way of providing subsidy,” he said. PTI