KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Barum confirmed today the suspension of the privatised system that manages the drugs and medical equipment for retirees.
He said this was because the government contract awarded to OratisRx Sdn Bhd had expired. The private company was appointed by the Public Service Department (PSD) as an intermediary to provide government pensioners with medicine and medical equipment unavailable in government hospitals or clinics.
“I said OratisRx, their contract has expired, that’s all,” Johari told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
He added that he had no knowledge if the company’s contract would be renewed or if another would be appointed in its place when asked, saying his ministry was not in charge as the issue was handled by the PSD.
He also said that military veterans are also affected by the suspension as they had depended on the same company that had used the e-Mass system for free medical supplies.
“I speak on behalf of the Defence Ministry. Regarding the veterans, they will continue to enjoy the free medicines too but because of what happened to the e-MASS now, they have to go back to the manual way,” Johari said.
The “manual” method means federal government pensioners and military veterans will return to the old system of paying for their medical supplies bought at private hospitals and then claiming it back later from PSD.
The suspension order took effect from February 28, according to a statement from OratisRX a day earlier, which means retired government employees are now unable to get free medicine from private hospitals for now.
Opposition lawmakers have since questioned the last-minute suspension, with DAP MP Teo Nie Ching claiming that Johari previously said OratisRX’s facility was temporarily stopped due to upgrading works.
Johari denied making such a statement when asked. However, a statement on the PSD’s post-service website stated that the e-Mass system to federal government pensioners and military veterans is suspended from February 28 pending upgrades.
“It is expected to be resolved shortly,” the statement added without indicating when.
The e-MASS system enabled pensioners to get medicines or medical equipment at private hospitals, clinics or pharmacies registered with OratisRx without making any payment, if they are unable to get the supplies from government hospitals.
Pensioners only needed to go directly to those places, call the e-MASS call centre or make orders through the e-MASS portal and have OratisRx deliver the item to them or to the respective hospital.