KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today slammed the government for refusing to raise private clinic general practitioners’ (GPs) consultation fees that have stagnated for 27 years.
The largest doctors’ group in the country with over 10,000 members pointed out that “minute” private GP charges had no direct impact on the cost of living because of free government health care services.
“GP services supplement the government system and is an additional option for the public, but not a compulsory choice.
“It’s also been explained many times in the past that the total encounter fees for the public will not rise due to free market forces as well as reduction in medication cross subsidies,” MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said in a statement.
CodeBlue broke the news Wednesday that the powerful National Cost of Living Action Council (NACCOL), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, has declined to harmonise private clinic GPs’ consultation fees with their hospital counterparts, pending further studies on its financial impact to the public.
The government committee had ordered the Ministry of Health (MOH) and MMA to conduct yet another study, even though two regulatory impact analyses and three stakeholders’ engagements have already been conducted under both the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) and current Pakatan Harapan (PH) administrations.
Dr Ganabaskaran said today that the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 empowered the Health Minister to gazette the harmonisation of fees between clinic and hospital GPs, but the “current Cabinet wants to micromanage every decision at the ministry level.”
Some 7,000 private clinic GPs throughout the country have been calling for their consultation fees to be raised from the 1992 rate of RM10 to RM35, to the scale of RM30 to RM125 earned by their counterparts in private hospitals.
“MMA fails to understand the need for this merry-go-round consultations and impact studies, which is also a waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” said Dr Ganabaskaran.
MMA urged Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad and his fellow ministers to stop the “political maneuvering”.
“MMA expects no less from the Minister of Health, the Pakatan government and NACCOL, as further delay in this long-drawn unresolved issue would constitute a total disregard for the trust we placed in this government and make universal health care a meaningless tagline.”