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KUCHING, August 29: The poor will suffer even more if the government approves a proposal to increase private medical consultation fees from the current RM10-RM35 to RM35-RM125, said Lina Soo, president of State Reform Party (STAR).
“I am already shocked by the government’s proposal to abolish the RM1 charge at government hospitals, and now there are already public complaints of increased charges.
“If it is going to be replaced by a health insurance scheme, I want the government to clarify how the insurance scheme will be implemented, who is going to pay for it, and how poor Sarawak farmers will be able to pay for it,” said Soo in a statement yesterday in response to a recent announcement by Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Azman Abu Baker that private medical consultation fees might be revised.
Dr Azman said the proposed fee hike was supported by medical practitioners and consumer organisations during a town hall session at the Health Ministry.
Soo wondered how the town hall session was conducted and who attended.
“Were there any Sarawakian or NGOs or Sarawak government representatives present to speak up for the rural poor of Sarawak, who already suffer from lack of healthcare due to poverty and neglect?” she asked.
She said Sarawak had high hopes of the federal government improving the livelihood of Sarawakians, but they were instead hit by “whammy after whammy” just on healthcare alone.
“The 1Malaysia clinics that have served the rakyat well have apparently been aborted as well.
“Just completed 100 days of government, the Malaysia Baru government has proven itself adept at thinking up new ways to impoverish the needy and marginalised in Sarawak,” she lamented.
She reminded the government that being poor was not a choice for many.
“The government may consider capping the ceiling price at RM125, but it should maintain the minimum charge at RM10.
“I do not see any poor doctors around with the current minimum consultation fee of RM10 since 2006. It is the government’s duty to ensure that healthcare is affordable to everyone,” said Soo.
On another matter, Soo urged the federal government to halt Tabung Harapan as the government could survive without this “tongkat” (cane).
“The Malaysia Baru government must seriously get down to work on managing and expanding our economy to improve the lives of our people. Stop indulging in daily theatrics and drama to entertain the people. Enough is enough,” she stressed. — DayakDaily