Saturday, February 4, 2012

TMI: 1 Care in its ‘final stages’, say Health Ministry officials.... By Yow Hong Chieh

1 Care in its ‘final stages’, say Health Ministry officials

February 04, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Putrajaya’s controversial 1 Care scheme, which critics claim will tax citizens and businesses monthly to foot the country’s growing healthcare bill, has already entered its “final stages”, Health Ministry officials told a pharmaceutical seminar last month.
This is despite the ministry’s repeated denials and assurance to the public that it is “too early” to sound warning bells about the scheme, believed to be in phase three of a five-phase implementation plan.
The Malaysian Insiderunderstands that ministry officials had told the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) during a seminar on January 15 that it was already finalising 1 Care proposals and that a Pharmacy Act would be tabled at the next Parliament sitting in March to facilitate the transition to the new insurance scheme.
“The 1 Care transformation proposals are now in the final stages,” the ministry’s health policy and planning deputy director Dr Nordin Saleh had told MPS, according to the minutes of the seminar obtained by this news portal.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Health Ministry pharmacy board deputy director Azman Yahya had also explained that the new Pharmacy Act would see the government outsourcing the dispensing of prescription drugs to pharmacies.
Doctors, on the other hand, would only prescribe drugs identified in a standard list, which will be covered by 1 Care’s National Health Financing Scheme (NHFS), while patients will have to pay “out of pocket” for medicines not included in the list.
A drug pricing system may also be introduced once the standard list has been compiled and pharmacies will be reimbursed for all prescriptions, which will comprise mainly generic drugs whenever possible.
The proposed 1 Care scheme, which is fast turning into a political hot potato, is expected to replace the current two-tier healthcare system and force citizens and businesses to contributed nearly 10 per cent of their monthly earnings to a government-run insurance fund.
Under the current system, patients can choose to seek treatment at either private clinics or hospitals and pay out of their own pockets or opt for government clinics or hospitals instead, where they will pay a nominal fee for basic, federally subsidised healthcare.
Already, public outrage is fast growing over the prospect of additional taxes under Putrajaya’s bid to restructure Malaysia’s healthcare system, despite talk that the new scheme would ensure more equitable healthcare for Malaysians of all classes.
Leading the charge is the Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC), a group comprising medical practitioners and consumer associations that has taken its cause online.
The pact, which started off with some 17 associations, kicked off its “Tak Nak 1 Care” campaign last December using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube to spread information about the scheme and gain wider public support.
The Health Ministry, however, yesterday assured critics that the 1 Care scheme will not burden the public with undue costs.
Its director-general, Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, said discussions on the types of financial arrangements that will be made available and their implication to the government as well as taxpayers were ongoing to ensure an acceptable healthcare financing model.
“Any assumption or conjecture on the mode of financial impact for the individual taxpayer is very premature at this stage as discussions are being held at the moment to ensure a positive and workable model,” he had said in a statement.
Dr Hasan added that the ministry was taking proactive steps to ensure that Malaysians would not be burdened by healthcare costs, even as they continued to spiral upwards.

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