KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — The revised fees for general practitioners (GPs) had been gazetted into law back in 2013 under Barisan Nasional (BN), a group of private doctors told the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) said the Ministry of Health (MOH), however, had made a “serious administrative failure” by excluding the agreed GP fee revision in Schedule 7 of the Private Health Care Facilities and Services Act 2006 from the 2013 amendment of that law.
The 2013 amendment only raised the consultation fees for hospital-based GPs under Schedule 13, to a rate of RM35 to RM125, but did not revise the fees for GPs operating shoplot practices under Schedule 7 that have remained at RM10 to RM35 for 27 years since 1992.
“It was never the mandate of the Amendment Committee of the Ministry to have two separate schedules for GP fees, a higher one for hospital-based GPs and lower one for non-hospital based GPs,” FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow said in a statement.
Dr Chow was referring to the MOH Fee Amendment Committee that had discussed revised fees for specialists and GPs “many years ago”.
“In fact, the revised GP fees were among the first items to be completed during that two-day workshop. For those who participated in that workshop, it was pointed at the outset that the GP fees section in the original Schedule 7 would similarly be amended in the final document to reflect the same as amalgamated in the amended Schedule 13,” he said.
The Cabinet under PH that won power about a year ago in the historic 2018 election, however, decided last month not to match the consultation fees of GPs operating shoplot practices with their private hospital counterparts.
FPMPAM stressed that GPs were not asking for another fee raise and pointed out that the 2013 amendment to the Private Health Care Facilities and Services Act was called the Private Hospitals and Other Private Health Care Facilities Amendment.
Dr Chow pointed out that the term “other private health care facilities” clearly included GP clinics that were not based in hospitals.
“When this anomaly was first pointed out to the Ministry in 2014, we would expect it to take immediate remedial measures to rectify its own administrative failure so as to avoid unnecessary legal complications,” said Dr Chow.
“Instead of doing the needful, the MOH have left the issue to drag on for the past five years and now have chosen to cover up its failure by representing this as a new request by the GPs for another fee hike.
“We are left with the question whether the Minister, the Cabinet and now the public are been misled in this issue.”
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), another group of doctors, has warned the government that the Cabinet’s decision to regulate drug prices, while freezing GPs’ consultation fees, may end up killing off GP practice.