KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — MCA pledged today to file a lawsuit against the Social Security Organisation (Socso) if it did not overturn new eligibility criteria for free dialysis treatments.
MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er also cited a 2018 announcement that the social security fund was planning to construct a rehabilitation centre and a hospital in Perak, with both buildings expected to cost at least half a billion ringgit.
She also pointed out that Socso only needed to spend RM200 million in 2017 to provide contributors with free dialysis treatment under the old broader requirements.
“Soso should not be sacrificing the allocation for providing the poor and needy with essential dialysis treatment, in return for fancy new rehab resorts,” Chan said in a statement.
“It is bad enough that many Socso contributors face an endless stream of bureaucratic hurdles regarding claims and grants, but to be denied a vital healthcare service when your kidneys are failing due to a mere procedural slip-up such as missing a monthly contribution, is beyond tolerance.
“If Socso does not reverse their decision, and begins turning people away from dialysis facilities due to these new requirements, rest assured that the MCA will not hesitate to initiate legal proceedings against Socso.”
Socso deputy chief executive (operations) John Riba Marin has said that Socso — which mainly protects employees against occupational injuries and invalidity — was not legally bound to provide subsidised dialysis treatments to its contributors with kidney failure, despite doing so since 1999.
Dialysis treatment is provided free-of-charge at any Socso dialysis panel centres, government hospitals, private dialysis centres, or facilities run by NGOs, while those who seek treatment at non-Socso dialysis panel centres can expense it to Socso.
Opposition party MCA urged Socso to make public its internal rationalisation memorandum that prompted the move to tighten conditions for fully subsidised dialysis treatments.
According to a recent circular by Socso, the eligibility for end-stage renal disease patients getting free dialysis covered by Socso is now tied to the respective new applicant’s tenure and quantum of contribution to the fund, effective last January 10.
The new conditions state that applicants must present their invalidity notice to Socso before turning 60. They also must have paid at least 24 months’ worth of monthly contributions to Socso within 40 consecutive months. Another condition requires that applicants’ monthly contributions comprise at least one-third of their first contribution upon entering the scheme, right up to the receipt of their invalidity notice.