Pensioned military veterans as well as federal government retirees can obtain their medicine supplies and medical equipment by prescription directly from the Ministry of Health (MOH) facilities, announced the Public Service Department (PSD).

The statement was made following the recent suspension of the Electronic Medical Automation Supply System (e-MASS), a drug and medical equipment management service provided by OratisRx Sdn Bhd, which prevented pensioners from collecting their free medicines from private health institutions.

e-MASS system provided intermediary services

In 2012, the government appointed private company OratisRx Sdn Bhd, known as Oratis Services at the time, as a mediator between federal pensioners and the PSD to manage and provide drugs as well as medical equipment that were unavailable in public health facilities. The company provided the e-MASS system, which enabled pensioners to obtain medicines or equipments directly from private health facilities registered with OratisRx without having to make payment.

Prior to this arrangement, pensioners would purchase medicines that were unavailable at government hospitals from private hospitals, clinics or pharmacies and submit claims for repayment from the PSD.

Although the contract with OratisRx, which began on 26 January 2012, expired on 27 January of this year, the PSD explained that the service was extended on an interim basis until 27 February 27. 

Uncertainty follows sudden suspension of e-MASS system

It was not disclosed if the contract would be renewed or if another private company would be appointed to run the e-MASS services. Confusion amongst pensioners also arose as PSD did not reveal if medicines and equipments from public health facilities would be provided without charge, or if the procedure would revert to how it was before 2012, where they would first pay for the prescription and subsequently claim charges from PSD.

“Pensioners have not been told how they are going to have access to their much-needed medicine from now onwards,” said P Ramakrishnan, an Aliran executive committee member, who questioned about the sudden cessation of the service.

“It is difficult to fathom government policies. But pensioners need to know soon where their supply of medicine will come from. Can we be enlightened, please?” he further queried.

However, Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Barum confirmed that the procedure would return to the “manual way”, which is for pensioners to pay first and claim later.

Amid the uncertainties, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah assured that the MOH will continue to ensure that pensioners will continue to receive medicine and medical equipment from public clinics and hospitals.

“To ensure the continued treatment and medicine supply for retirees, Federal Public Service pensioners and veterans can get their medical prescriptions from those in the MOH’s stock and formulary at its health facilities,” he said.

“Those that are not in MOH’s stock and formulary will be dispensed according to existing procedures,” he added, highlighting that, like other Malaysian citizens, pensioners will receive “highly subsidised” medical treatment from the Health Ministry. MIMS

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