Long wait for elderly | #insurance | #seniors | #elderly
In recent years, the Sindh Assembly and the provincial government’s performance in legislation is both good and bad: good as a large number of laws have been enacted, but bad when seen in the context of their enforcement. Like many other laws, the Senior Citizens Welfare Act had been passed in 2014, but it has not been implemented despite the passage of seven years. The law entitled elderly persons to get 25% concession on healthcare, including purchase of medicines, travel, entertainment and other services in the province. The elderly were to be issued Azadi Cards to facilitate them to obtain the rebate. The government says it has to seek the help of NADRA before the issuance of the Azadi Cards, and it is this process that has delayed implementation of the scheme.
This argument is anything but unconvincing considering that the scheme has not moved beyond the paper stage in seven long years. The prolonged delay is quite disheartening. This is in sharp contrast to the immediate implementation of laws that increase the emoluments and perks of the legislators themselves. The law had given hopes to the elderly that it would ease their difficulties in these times of galloping inflation and when their income had shrunk considerably. Now they feel disappointed as the promise of relief does not seem to be fulfilled anytime soon.
Ruling parties find it easy to pass legislation after legislation in quick succession and forget to implement them, but they ignore the fact that this might erode the people’s trust in the legislature. Seeing the trend, one could expect that laws might be repealed as easily as they are enacted. Laws supposed to benefit the vulnerable sections are passed with much fanfare and they are received with great enthusiasm. There the matter ends. The Sehat Sahulat Card has been introduced in most districts of other provinces, but the government’s health insurance scheme has so far been launched in only seven districts of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2021.
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