ACRI warns of private-health option in new Ashdod hospital

"This is a severe instance of using public resources for profit-making private activity that violates the patients’ right to equity.”

By
August 25, 2011 04:43
2 minute read.
a hospital in Jerusalem

hospital 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Allowing private medical service (Sharap) in the public hospital to be established by Assuta Medical Centers – a private subsidiary of the Maccabi Health Services public health fund – would mean the end of the public hospital system, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

ACRI wrote a letter on Wednesday to Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and Treasury accountant-general Michal Abadi, demanding that the agreement signed a few months ago to allow Sharap in the Ashdod hospital be abrogated.

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Three months ago, Assuta Ashdod Ltd. won the public tender to build and run the medical center. The company will be allowed to offer Sharap, as has been routine for decades at Jerusalem’s major hospitals in addition to Laniado Medical Center in Netanya, because they are owned and run by voluntary organizations.

In Ashdod, a quarter of all income may come from private medical services in the public hospital, according to the agreement with the Finance Ministry, even though the medical center project will largely be funded by the public purse.

ACRI noted that the land on which the hospital will be built is public owned and was transferred to the company without payment.

The state will pay the company NIS 487 million to build it, or three-quarters of the cost. In addition, most of the ongoing costs will be covered by the four public health funds and the Health Ministry according to their commitments by law.

ACRI attorney Anne Suciu said the agreement with Assuta “violates High Court of Justice decisions and opens the way for a basic change in the public health system to minimize justice, equity and mutual assistance. This is a severe instance of using public resources for profit-making private activity that violates the patients’ right to equity.”

She said ACRI does not oppose building a public hospital in the growing city of Ashdod; it favors it, as it will make good healthcare more accessible to residents of the area whether they have economic means or private insurance or not. But Sharap will give people with means an advantage. Senior doctors will treat the well-off at the expense of the ordinary residents, Suciu charged.

ACRI concluded that the existing agreement on the Ashdod hospital be discussed seriously in a parliamentary and public framework and be canceled.


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