KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad says he will hold a meeting with GPs soon to address issues over their proposal to increase consultation fees in tandem with doctors' fees in private hospitals.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Dr Dzulkefly said Cabinet did not reject the proposal, adding that it will be discussed at the National Cost of Living Council meeting before being brought up in Cabinet again.
He said on April 24, he had handed over a memorandum recommending the amendment to harmonise the fees to the Cabinet.
"While the Cabinet understands the need and rational for the recommendation, a meeting has suggested that the matter be discussed at the National Cost of Living Council meeting and be brought up again for Cabinet's consideration," he said.
He said that he will also chair a meeting with stakeholders soon to explain the amendment, and several related allegations, as well as private healthcare services.
In a tweet Thursday, he said he understood the GPs situation in relation to the 7th Fee Schedule amendment of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services (Private Medical Clinics or Private Dental Clinics) Regulations, 2006.
The regulations fall under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
"The Cabinet understands the need and rational for the synchronisation. The current consultation fees are fees that were used since 1992. GPs, l will meet up with you soonest," he tweeted.
Doctors claimed the Cabinet recently refused an appeal by the GPs to harmonise the 7th Schedule with the 13th Schedule (which covers private hospital-based doctors’ fees), which was raised by 14% in 2014.
In a Letter to the Editor of The Star on May 6, the Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) had said that privately-owned clinics could close shop if controls on drug prices come into effect, while ignoring the harmonisation of the fee schedule of private GPs.
Its representative Dr M. Raj Kumar said MPCAM maintained that prices of drugs should be controlled and this should be done in tandem with the harmonisation of the fee schedule of private medical clinics, which was last done about two decades ago.
The MPCAM is concerned that it was not invited to participate in discussions leading to this development and urges the Cabinet to review its decision, he said.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim had last year said the consultation fees at shoplot private clinics, now at between RM10 and RM35, should be “harmonised” with the fees for GPs in private hospitals, which was revised to between RM35 and RM125 in 2013.
He said that in 2013, the fees in Schedule 13 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act for hospitals and specialists and GPs practising in hospitals as emergency department medical officers were revised, but not for Schedule 7 for private clinics including GPs operating outside hospitals.
He said the proposed increase to between RM35 and RM125 was actually from the MMA’s Fourth Fees Schedule way back in 2002, which recommended that simple consultation fee be increased to RM35 and complex consultation to RM125, adding that charges have not increased since 1992.