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Friday, December 19, 2008

Government to regulate fees at IJN even if heart hospital is privatised

The National Heart Institute’s (IJN) fees will continue to be regulated by the Govern­ment even if it is privatised.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said IJN’s present method of operations would also have to continue.

“I would like to reiterate that the fee structure is currently set by the Government.

“It will be the same, even in the future, so IJN cannot charge higher than what is allowed by the Govern­ment,” he said when asked of reports of Sime Darby Bhd making a bid for a stake in IJN.

He was speaking to reporters after visiting patients Chen Winnie, 23, and Tan Geek Koon, 40, who are both awaiting donor hearts.

Liow said his ministry would look into the social aspect of the privatisation plans to make sure that the patients’ interests are taken care of.

“There are a lot of Government requirements that they (Sime Darby) will have to fulfil,” he said.
He said that currently about 80% of IJN patients were subsidised by the Government.

Asked if that would continue even with the privatisation, he said: “Yes, that will continue, definitely. That is the prerequisite. It won’t change anything.”

He said the objective for the setting up IJN was very clear, which was to serve Malaysians from all walks of life and IJN would have to continue fulfilling that purpose.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, however, hoped IJN would not be privatised.

The former Health Minister told a press conference at Wisma MCA here that, apart from promoting Malay­sia’s good name in the eyes of the world, the institute had done a lot in helping the poor in the country.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the party hoped that the Government would not privatise IJN.

He said the privatisation would cause hardship to the poor although Sime Darby has assured that it would not burden the poor.

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