Don’t be misled, it’s not a hike in fees

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I REFER to the recent report on the Cabinet’s decision to reject the proposal to harmonise the general practitioner’s (GP) fees with what was already approved in 2013.

Firstly, the revised fees for specialists and general practitioners were fully and meticulously discussed by all relevant parties including the Health Ministry and finalised during an intensive two-day workshop by the Fee Amendment Committee of the ministry many years ago.

The revised fees for both GPs and specialists had been approved by the Cabinet of the day and gazetted into law on Oct 10, 2013 in the form of an amendment order called the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (Private Hospitals and OTHER Private Healthcare Facilities)[Amendment] Order 2013. In all legal and common sense, the term “and OTHER private healthcare facilities” clearly includes all GP clinics which are not based in hospitals.

In fact, the revised GP fees were among the first items to be completed during that two-day workshop. For those who participated, it was pointed out at the beginning that the GP fees section in the original Schedule 7 would similarly be amended in the final document to reflect the same as amalgamated in the amended Schedule 13.

Nevertheless, in all fairness and in keeping with normal statutory construction, the GP fees stated in the amended Schedule 13 of the said order clearly supersedes that of the Schedule 7, which is by now defunct as almost all the other items in it are already amalgamated in the amended Schedule 13.

The failure to include the agreed GP Fee amendment in Schedule 7 in the said Amendment Order 2013 is a serious administrative failure on the part of the Health Ministry.

What must also be made very clear is that the GPs are not asking for another increase in their fees.

When this anomaly was first pointed out to the ministry in 2014, we expected it to take immediate remedial measures to rectify its own administrative failure to avoid unnecessary legal complications.

But instead of doing the needful, the Health Ministry has allowed the issue to drag on for the past five years and has now chosen to cover up its failure by representing this as a new request by the GPs for another fee hike.

We are left to question whether the Health Minister, Cabinet and now the public have been misled in this issue.

DR STEVEN KW CHOW

President, Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) 

Source : The Star Wednesday 8th May 2019

Category: Letters to Media
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