Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin today slams the government's MySalam health insurance scheme for B40, saying that Pakatan Harapan should not roll out new policies without substantial research.
In a statement, he questioned the government for moving away from its duty of improving the national healthcare system by introducing the scheme.
He said the MySalam would encourage more patients and specialists to go to the private sector, which will indirectly weaken the public healthcare system.
"On a macro level, why should the government move away from its fundamental duty of providing quality healthcare and instead focus on providing an insurance scheme? As highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the quality of health services is as important as the access to these services.
"Hence, I encourage the Health Ministry to focus instead on investing to improve our national healthcare infrastructure, which will bring many more tangible and intangible benefits.
"We need better public hospitals which improve healthcare value by delivering better health outcomes for all, irrespective of one’s income level. We cannot be contented with crowded public wards and overworked medical staff.
"We need to address pertinent issues such as healthcare expenditure for the amount of output and doctor-to-population ratio.
"Indeed, this 'MySalam' scheme will encourage more patients and specialists to go to the private sector instead, indirectly weakening our Malaysian public healthcare system," Khaled said in the statement.
MySalam is an initiative by the federal government to provide health insurance for the Below 40 income group. It was launched by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday.
The scheme had received criticism from several quarters, including Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) which voiced its concern that it would undermine the public healthcare system.
Khaled, who is former Johor menteri besar, said that while he applauded the government for taking the initiative to improve access to health services and improving the rakyat's wellbeing, he believed that there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed inthe MySalam scheme.
"This national B40 insurance scheme does not fully comply with the principle of universal health coverage promoted by WHO.
"Based on WHO's principles, MySalam is not inclusive enough as it only covers 3.69 million Malaysians in the B40 group. What about the M40 who may also face financial constraints in accessing health services?" Khaled said.
Khaled pointed to a report by Bank Negara in 2017 which showed that 3.9 million working adults from non-B40 groups were uninsured.
He said the rate of national insurance penetration among the non-B40s was at 56 percent.
"Hence, is the government ignoring our M40s’ need for access to health services with the 'MySalam' scheme?
"Certainly, Malaysians in the M40 group will be very vulnerable if they lost their jobs and accompanying health coverage.
"In addition, those who are self-employed are not protected against the financial risk of high medical cost, magnifying their vulnerability, especially during financial downturns," he said.