Posts Tagged ‘1Care


1Care – Not a penny more, BN

FEB 15 — After handing out one-off payments of RM500 to the poor, the government turns around and is now asking for a handout from the taxpayers, under the guise of paying for an improved healthcare system.

The people must now realise that this is a government that has neither the vision nor the will to move Malaysia forward in the global marketplace. After a lousy victory in 2008 general elections, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has virtually been on a re-election campaign mode since, devising short-term populist agendas such as KR1M, BR1M, etc., none of which addresses the current malaise the country is facing — stagnant wages in the face of rising costs in the midst of a long-drawn out, slow global growth.

As it stretched out is left hand to hand out cash to poor households, its right hand is dipping into the pockets of ordinary Malaysians to fund its lavish spending and greedy cronies.

This is a government that, after half a century in power, actually praises itself as a “caring” government as it hands out a pittance to poor Malaysians, when it should be ashamed that for a country so blessed with natural resources and talent, we still have three-quarters of households with monthly incomes below RM3,000.

This is the same government that that forked out RM80 million to a foreign media outfit to boost its credentials, and the result was an embarrassing worldwide public relations disaster for Malaysia.

This is the same government that sees no wrong doing in lending out RM250 million of the people’s hard-earned money to a Cabinet minister’s family, one with no experience or credentials, to run a national project in which the 31-year-old CEO-son duly demonstrated his superior “cow management” skills by purchasing luxury multi-million condominiums. At the same time, the government has to resort to sticking its crummy hands into our retirement funds in order to come up with an initial RM300 million to help fund homes for poor families.

This is the same government that does not blink an eye when its naval defence procurements overshot its budget by billions, as it prepares to fight its imaginary enemies in the high seas, when the real pirates are running wild inland, hand-in-hand with their BN masters, grabbing projects, concessions and sweet deals.

This is the same government whose ministers live in posh mansions in Damansara Heights, send their kids to private schools or foreign universities, and travel around in chauffeur-driven German cars. Meanwhile, the average Malaysian can barely afford his first terrace house, worries about declining education standards in his children’s schools’, and drives an overpriced local car on overpriced and congested tolled roads.

And now with 1 Care, Malaysians are now asked to fork out more of our incomes so that the government can provide us with a better healthcare system. Instead of looking hard at its books, coming up with ways to trim excess and wasteful spending, and re-prioritising spending towards health and education, the government took the rather lazy and predictable route — more tax on Malaysians.

This is from a government that has given Malaysia its biggest national debt in decades. This is from a government who claims to understand the average Malaysian’s daily tribulations in the face of the current economic uncertainty.

This is from a government that is surely disconnected from the realities that we are facing. When it has the audacity to ask the people to pay more tax to feed its out-of-control spending frenzy that yields no long-term benefit to the country, but are more likely to fatten the bank accounts of well-connected individuals.

To you, BN, I say: No more — not a penny more.

Not a penny more, BN — CL Tang
February 15, 2012 – TMI


Dr M to blame for costly healthcare, says anti-1 Care group

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — The Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC) has blamed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the country’s escalating cost of healthcare, linking this to sweeping healthcare reforms pushed through by the former prime minister during the 1980s.

CHC, a coalition of medical practitioners and consumer associations formed recently to protest against 1 Care, cited the corporatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN) as an example and said it has become one of the country’s costliest specialist centres.

It claimed that waiting time for the needy and poor have become “inordinately long” at the institute and could go up to two years, while those who can afford it could pay to get their treatment overnight.

“This is what privatisation does and we can credit Tun Mahathir for this dismal state of affairs,” CHC representative Dr T. Jayabalan said in a statement here.

He added that in 1994 during Dr Mahathir’s tenure, pharmaceutical services were also privatised, but with the government becoming a stakeholder.

“Along with the privatisation came a 15-year monopoly for pharmaceutical supplies to the government health facilities by Pharmaniaga.

“It was a closed tender and this disallowed competition. It is common knowledge that competition will bring down prices,” he charged.

Under Dr Mahathir’s privatisation moves, Dr Jayabalan said the prices of generic drugs also soared, effectively denying lower-income earners access to the medicines.

Dr M to blame for costly healthcare, says anti-1 Care group
February 18, 2012 – TMI


Gov’t intervention causes medical costs to go up

The proposed 1Care for 1Malaysia healthcare transformation plan is a hot topic of discussion in the public.

It is said that a certain percentage of monthly income is to be contributed by the employees and the employers towards the plan, although the details are still on the drawing board.

First of all, we must distinguish the difference between healthcare and medical care. Healthcare is associated with hygiene, proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

What the government could do to improve healthcare is to proliferate the awareness through formal education at the schools and informal education through various means.

The key performance indexes may include the level of awareness among the general public on what is healthy food and what is not, how much food is not considered overeating, how much exercise is essential and practical, how much sleep is sufficient, the level of commitment and habitual changes towards healthcare practices, the reduction of obesity among the public, and the reduction of government spending on subsidised medical care.

Medical care is a poor substitute for healthcare. Free or subsidised medical care gives the people false sense of security and misleads them into neglecting their health until it is too late to find out that even modern medical science is not magic.

There is no free lunch. Ultimately, who pay the bills? Who get the biggest slice of the allocation? Could it be pharmaceutical companies, medical care industries, insurance corporations, bankers, and politicians?

Under the 1Care scheme, if the people are forced to pay and forced to accept a doctor assigned by the government, it is repressive. Many people, whether they are rich or not, do not seek treatment at government hospitals due to the perceived poor service quality, irrespective of the true nature of the services.

After all, it is not the responsibility of the public to grant their trust but for the other party to gain the trust of the public. The tax payers are already subsidising the medical cost of those who use the services of government hospitals.

Even if the 1Care scheme only requires monthly contribution of RM10, it does not give any value to those not using the services and it is not fair. Some people receive medical benefits from their employers, while others subscribe to additional insurance for critical illnesses coverage.

Gov’t intervention causes medical costs to go up
Chung Boon Kuan
Feb 15, 2012 – Malaysiakini Letters


Why should I care about 1 Care?

FEB 15 — When the idea of a national health financing mechanism came up in the mid-2000s, the question of how the funding scheme would be implemented caused much concern.

As a journalist then with an interest in public health issues, I followed the arguments made, then observed how the idea of “the rich paying for the poor” disappeared.

Logic suggests that the then-proposed national health financing mechanism — or scheme, as it was also referred to — had gone back to the drawing board. Today, it seems that the same idea has been repackaged under 1 Care.

Rebranding aside, the idea of 1 Care is noble. But the sketchy details are worrying. Why a major announcement is made without being accompanied by proper details boggles me.

And yes, Mr Director-General, Malaysians are sensitive when it comes to parting with their money. How can we not be, when we already contribute to EPF, Socso, income tax, service tax, sin tax and a higher cost of living (my jaw dropped when 10 rolls of toilet paper and three packages of my favourite 3-in-1 coffee chalked up almost RM60)?

The DG had also said that the 11 technical working groups are still studying the 1 Care system and details on the paying mechanism will be revealed in due course. He goes on to say that apart from the RM34 billion set aside, the costs of medical visit and treatments will be borne by a central government agency that will pool contributions by “the government, employer, employee and those self-employed.”

He had said: “Under the idea, we optimise the system, you can choose your doctor and you can go to any clinic, private or government as the costs will be paid by an authority handled by the government… it’s very simple. Say you need to be hospitalised and this system allows you a two-person per ward stay, but if you want one which you don’t want to share, then you have to pay for that option.”

What happens to our insurance commitments? From where I sit, it seems like double payment for a single service. We need answers.

Why should I care about 1 Care?
Shamini Darshni
February 15, 2012 – MI


Restructuring the Malaysian health system: Is there a need?

FEB 14 — We observe with concern and interest the recent discussions by the ‘rakyat’ and explanations by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) in the print and electronic media regarding the planned National Health System Transformation. We agree that there are deficiencies in the present system that need to be addressed and applaud the Director-General of Health’s pledge to engage the ‘rakyat’ and stakeholders in its planning.

There is no denying that the Malaysia’s Health System is acknowledged internationally as being successful in providing health services to the ‘rakyat’. Notable successes include:

1. Reduction in mortality and morbidity and increased life expectancy, rising from 56 yrs for male in 1957 to 72 years in 2006; and 58 yrs for females to 76 years correspondingly. Infant mortality rate is comparable to developed countries.

2. An equitable public sector and universal access to comprehensive treatment; where everyone has access to medical treatment up to tertiary level at a nominal fee; and for the poor for free.

3. An effective Public Health Service focused on health promotion and disease prevention.

4. An efficient and effective rural health service; this has been used as a model for other developing countries by WHO

All these were achieved with a total health expenditure amounting to 4.8 per cent of GDP; with the government spending less than 3 per cent of GDP. This is way below that recommended by WHO which is 7.6 per cent.

Restructuring the Malaysian health system: Is there a need? — Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
February 14, 2012 – MI


1Care – Ultimately the rakyat pays (Video)


1Care: Another round of ‘piratisation’?

While the mooted 1Care health system may have some benefits, taxpayers are finding it difficult to trust the government with billions of ringgit in funds that the reform will create through taxation, said Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, the Selangor exco member in charge of health.

The government, Jeyakumar said, is already dipping its hands into the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) for RM1.5 billion to finance its low-cost housing loan scheme and there is no guarantee that it will not do the same in the case of 1Care.

“How big is this fund? This fund is huge. It can go on an equal standard of the EPF over the years because it goes into the billions (of ringgit) every year, that’s how big it is,” he told a 1Care healthcare reform forum in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Under 1Care scheme, employees and employers will be taxed for a social health insurance scheme with no option to opt out, but the government will also contribute to the fund.

Jeyakumar said that the country’s abysmal record on privatisation is not inspiring confidence in the government’s sincerity to reduce healthcare cost with 1Care.

“We have such a poor track record of privatisation because cronyism came in, and privatisation became ‘piratisation’,” he said.

Giving an example, Jeyakumar said drugs that cost five sen a tablet are being sold to public hospitals at 25 sen each by private companies, with which the government has signed a contract for 15 years.

“If you are sincere about bringing change to the healthcare system in this country, we welcome it, but we want you to be transparent, we want you to be open and hold discussions with all stakeholders,” he said.

Critics have complained that the scheme is shrouded in secrecy, but Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said last Saturday that the plan is still in its infancy.

1Care: Another round of ‘piratisation’?
Feb 13, 2012 – Malaysiakini


1Care – Lessons from past health care privatisation

The controversial 1Care scheme is a thinly disguised attempt to continue the privatisation of the public health care sector which has already started in the 90s.

In 1994 the government privatised the Government Medical Store to Pharmaniaga (at that time known as Remedi Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of UEM). This concession covers manufacturing, purchasing, storage and distribution of pharmaceutical and medical products previously handled by the government. This privatisation resulted in price increase of about 3.3 times according to a study.

In 1996 another huge privatisation exercise in the public health care sector was carried out. This was the transfer of the hospital support services (HSS) to 3 private consortiums. HSS consists of clinical waste management, cleaning, linen and laundry, facility engineering maintenance, and biomechanical engineering maintenance. The Health Minister at that time claimed that it was the biggest health care privatisation project carried out anywhere in the world. Does this mean it was not the smartest thing to do? Otherwise, many countries worldwide much bigger than Malaysia would be doing this already.

The 3 HSS providers that won the 15-year concession were Faber MediServe, Tongkah Medivest (later renamed Pantai Medivest) and Radicare. It is not surprising that these companies were politically well-connected. Faber MediServe is part of the UEM group, Tongkah Medivest consortium was linked to Mokhzani Mahathir and Radicare was owned by businessmen with links to UMNO.

One year after the privatisation, the costs of these services to the government rose more than 3-fold from RM143 million in 1996 to RM468.5 million in 1997 according to some estimates. It rose further to RM507.9 million in 1999 and in 2009 the payments to the 3 consortiums rocketed to more than RM1 billion. It is safe to assume that the country is now paying more than RM1 billion annually to the 3 private companies for providing hospital support services.

Are these cost increases justified or were they artificially inflated? As an example, according to this online report in 2001, the Director of University Hospital outlined how the Health Ministry-approved contracts were subcontracted out. A RM100 million contract was tendered to one of the concession companies, which subcontracted it to another UEM subsidiary for RM65 million, giving it a RM35 million profit. Another contract worth RM60 million awarded to the same company was subcontracted to the same subsidiary for RM40 million which in turn subcontracted it out to another company for RM25 million. Clearly, another RM35 million was siphoned away by crony companies.

You may wonder whether there is a mechanism to monitor and supervise the performance of the three HSS concession holders. Well, there is but this is also privatised! A private consultancy consortium, Sistem Hospital Awsan Taraf was appointed to carry out this monitoring role.

The 15-year concession period expired last year and the 3 companies have been given only a 6-month extension. It is unclear whether there is something brewing regarding the extension of the HSS concession. Are there other companies with political backing of different factions muscling in to get a piece of the pie or is it something related to the proposed 1Care scheme? Shouldn’t the government be calling for open tenders for the new concession period? These are contracts worth more than RM1 billion annually and it is not rocket science to provide cleaning services, linen and laundry services and facility maintenance. Other companies may be able to offer better services at a better price.

Many experts have praised the public health care system in Malaysia despite a government spending of only about 2% of GDP on health care. This is well below the 5% recommended by the World Bank. Instead of a drastic revamp of the whole health care system as proposed in the 1Care scheme which includes an inconceivable integration of the public health care services with the private hospitals and clinics, the government should concentrate on improving the current system. For example, have a good hard look at the concessions awarded in privatising the Government Medical Store and the hospital support services.


1Care: Corporations benefit, public suffers

AFTER the massive whacking of BN’s bid to introduce a 1Care national health scheme (NHS), let’s look at the idea from a different and more positive perspective.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that 1Care would entail mandatory monthly contributions from all Malaysians – meaning, the government is going for your pockets, despite you already paying all kinds of taxes and service charges.

It is extremely illogical, nauseating to say the least, for a “caring” government to even think of asking the rakyat to surrender 10 percent of their monthly salary to support 1Care.

Trying to introduce a health care scheme for the rakyat is a noble effort and idea. But the works of the scheme stinks.

It is acknowledged globally that the Canadian Health Programme is genuinely pro-rakyat with no loopholes for any chance of mismanagement and mishandling.

Any opportunity to link 1Care with any local or foreign insurance and reinsurance company will be a disaster.

This linkage can only lead to total commercialisation, thus creating limitation and excess clauses in the programme policies.

Also, any reinsurance will lead to invisible out-flow of huge amounts of funds to foreign land.

Malaysians need a real health programme and there is already a successfully tested health programme in Canada, so why opt for an inferior UK-NHS scheme?

The most important question: Is 1Care for the rakyat or for insurance companies backed by cronies of those in the corridors of power?

1Care: Corporations benefit, public suffers
Jackson Ng
Feb 12, 2012 – malaysiakini


Privatisation of Health Care Sector

The controversial 1Care scheme is a disguised attempt to continue the privatisation of the public health care sector which has already started in the 90s.

In 1994, the Government Medical Store (the main public drug manufacturing, procurement and distribution centre) was privatised to a company called Remedi Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of UEM. As most people know, UEM is a company linked to UMNO. A 15-year concession was awarded to Remedi to manufacture, purchase, store and distribute pharmaceutical and medical products to government hospitals. As expected, after the privatisation prices of medicine supplied to the hospitals soared – by 3.3 times according to a study.

In 1999 Remedi Pharmaceuticals became a subsidiary of Pharmaniaga Berhad and was renamed Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd. In 2009 the concession was renewed by the Health Ministry for another 10 years. Currently, about 75% of the drugs dispensed by the 900+ government hospitals are supplied by Pharmaniaga.

In 2011, Boustead acquired Pharmaniaga from the UEM group for RM534 million. You have not heard of Boustead? It is the company which was given a RM9 BILLION contract for the construction of 6 super-duper patrol boats in December 2011 (earlier only RM6 billion was approved but then the price jumped to RM9 billion – a 50% increase in less than a year!).

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?