KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — MCA Youth has proposed reopening Klinik 1Malaysia, amid concerns about more expensive clinic visits with deregulated private medical consultation fees.
“It is imperative that the Health Ministry (MOH) consider reopening the Klinik 1Malaysia so that families from poor backgrounds will not have their access to affordable healthcare snuffed out,” said MCA Youth secretary-general Daniel Wa Wai How.
Wa claimed that Cabinet’s landmark decision — made 13 years after private medical practitioners’ consultation fees were legislated in 2006 with rates set in law by the federal government — will further push poor families to the brink and restrict their options for health care.
“The closure of 34 Klinik 1Malaysia was attributed to it being not cost-effective; following Cabinet approval, the closures were to be done via soft-landing,” he pointed out in a statement yesterday.
“However, the current status remains unknown to the rakyat.
“What is known to us, however, is that private sector doctors and dentists can now determine their own consultation fee rates with the abolition of restrictions placed healthcare consultation fees. Thus, it is foreseeable that the price of health care would spontaneously increase.”
Wa added that financially needy families should not be sidelined in policymaking.
“As such, owing to how government hospitals are still notorious for overcrowding, the government ought to ensure that their decision to deregulate consultation fee rates does not hinder these families from seeking professional, affordable health care,” he said.
The Klinik 1Malaysia project, established in 2010, was named after the political slogan used by former prime minister Najib Razak and aimed at providing affordable health care to poor people.
After Pakatan Harapan wrested federal power from Barisan Nasional last year, the new government said the clinics would be rebranded as “Community Clinics”, adding that health care will not be affected by the move.
General practitioners (GPs), dentists, and specialists in private clinics and hospitals could be free to set their own consultation fees as soon as Christmas, depending on how fast the Attorney-General’s Chambers vets amendments into the law.
MOH’s legal division is currently drafting the amended regulations involving Act 586, or the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998, in which fee schedules for private health care practitioners are stipulated.
Under Schedule 7 of PHFSA, clinic GPs’ professional rates are set at RM10 to RM35, while private clinic dentists’ consultation fees are capped at RM25 to RM250. Under Schedule 13, private hospital specialists’ consultation fees are legislated at a rate of RM80 to RM235.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has since said MOH is taking note of all views and concerns over the deregulation move, including concerns of higher health care costs, adding that consultations and stakeholder engagements will be carried out during this time.