Opposition MPs Slam Socso Rules Limiting Free Dialysis

Wee Ka Siong says dialysis costs about RM3,000-RM4,000 monthly.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Opposition lawmakers have criticised the Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) new conditions on the insured in getting subsidised dialysis treatments for kidney failure.

Among the criteria that Socso imposed starting last January 10 were payment of monthly deductions to the social security fund for at least two years within a consecutive 40-month period, before one is eligible for free dialysis treatments at Socso dialysis panel centres, government hospitals, private dialysis centres, or facilities run by non-government organisations (NGOs).

Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong said based on his family’s experience, dialysis costs about RM250 per session, with monthly bills coming up to RM3,000 to RM4,000 from thrice weekly treatments.

“Imagine if Perkeso tightens the eligibility requirements of dialysis for contributors or workers, then many kidney disease patients will die because they can’t afford dialysis treatment. Isn’t this such a cruel measure?” Wee said in a statement.

The MCA lawmaker questioned if the Cabinet has discussed Socso’s proposal prior to the board’s decision on tightening eligibility for subsidised dialysis treatments.

Pekan MP and former prime minister Najib Razak also slammed Socso.

“The previous BN (Barisan Nasional) government was never as cruel as this. We never counted. We just helped those who deserved assistance — especially those most in need,” he said in a statement.

Socso — which mainly protects employees against occupational injuries and invalidity — also imposed two other conditions for getting free dialysis. Insured individuals must have already been living with a disease that required dialysis and presented an invalidity notice before turning 60. The other condition requires that the monthly deductions paid comprise at least one-third of their first deduction upon entering the scheme until their invalidity notice is received.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) pointed out that contributors under the Invalidity Grant Scheme were those who could not afford to remit monthly contributions to Socso regularly.

Malaysia reported about a 13 per cent annual increase of treated kidney failure cases in the last decade, the second-highest rise of the incidence rate worldwide, rising an average of 13.2 per cent per year from 2003 to 2016, according to the United States Renal Data System annual data report for 2018.

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