A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Medical tourism will not come at the expense of Israeli patients, Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee chairman Eli Alalouf said after noting the significant presence of medical tourism lobbyists in the hall.
“The lobbyists will not achieve their goals; we will ensure the priority of the Israeli patient,” the Kulanu MK said on Wednesday.
“I see people around me with an orange string on their neck that signifies lobbyist, and those who are supposed to wear such a string and have forgotten to,” Alalouf said. “I make it clear: This group of interests will not achieve its goals. A medical tourism service will not be at the expense of Israeli patients.
Everything will be done in order to strengthen the public health system and for the benefit of the Israeli patient in an ethical, transparent, orderly and fully controlled manner.
There is no intention to destroy this economic, branch and there is no reason to harm it, but the rights of the citizens are have priority.”
The committee held its first session on the governmental and private bills of MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) to regulate the field of medical tourism in Israel.
Alalouf and MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) rejected the claims of Ronen Solomon, director of medical tourism at the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, that if Israel fights against efforts of the lobbyists, “medical tourists will not come here; instead, they will go to Germany or Turkey.”
Avi Atia, director of the Trasma company, urged the MKS not to “throw out the baby with the bath water.” Cohen countered: “Do not threaten us. We receive a lot of complaints about discrimination against Israeli patients in hospitals with medical tourism. We will set down the rules.”
Michaeli said: “We will block this unreasonable flow at the expense of our citizens. We will allow medical tourism, of course, but not use of the resources we pay from our pockets without making sure to invest again in the health system in Israel. It’s crooked.”
Dr. Vered Ezra, head of the Health Ministry’s medical administration, explained the goals of the government bill: “We will protect the Israeli patient, strengthen the public system and ensure professional and ethical treatment for the tourist.
There will be no preference for tourists over an Israeli patient with availability, quality and resources.
Treatment will be given in the afternoon.
The ministry will enforce this. Revenues from medical tourism will be used [for a] registry for medical tourism agents and clear norms, with transparent information for the tourist, who will know what awaits him.”
MK Oded Forer of Yisrael Beyteinu added: “Medical tourism is an important economic anchor, not only in the context of the health system. We will not agree to legislation that will eliminate this branch, but we will regulate the field. We will not allow everyone to deal with it.”
“The public health system needs revenues from medical tourism like fresh air to breathe, and Israeli patients may actually benefit from the fruits,” said Dr. Miki Sherf, vice president of Clalit Health Services.
Alalouf said the committee will continue to discuss the issue during the summer recess.