KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali criticised the government’s decision not to review private clinic general practitioners’ (GPs) consultation fees that have stagnated for almost three decades.
The Bersatu lawmaker, who’s also a GP, pointed out that private family doctors now suffered far higher operating costs than in the past, facing increased costs of medicine, staff salaries, medical equipment, and office rent.
“GPs waited for 27 years since 1992. There was no review of this consultation fee. This is not fair,” Dr Noor Azmi told CodeBlue.
“GPs was said as the ‘the gatekeepers for health’ in the country. Looks like their welfare was neglected.
“Most if not all doctors supported the new government. Now they are surely upset by this decision, since two impact studies were already done as requested by the government.”
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 the Malaysian Medical Association (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.
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.
Dr Noor Azmi also questioned why clinic GPs’ consultation fees were not simultaneously raised in 2013 under Schedule 7 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, when hospital GPs’ consultation rates were increased to RM30 to RM125 under Schedule 13 in an amendment to the law that year.
“Why was Schedule 7 left out at that time, when actually the decision was for both Schedule 7 and 13?
“Who or which department in MOH did that? What’s the action taken to correct that, since 2013?”
The government MP said Putrajaya’s decision to freeze the legislated ceilings on clinic GPs’ consultation fees would further burden family physicians because third-party administrators (TPAs) — which manage health care plans for employees or the insured — were not properly regulated under the law.
“But no one cares about GPs.”
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) honorary secretary Dr R. Arasu said in a message to GP groups last Wednesday that TPAs would take advantage of the continued freeze of family doctors’ consultation fees, foreseeing further closures of private clinics.
“We feel very disappointed with this decision and, once again, feel oppressed by the PH government today.
“We believe that this is an extremely unjust political decision on a sector that has made significant contributions to the country’s GDP and provided over 30,000 jobs.”