The heads of the Israel Medical Association, national medical societies and
patients’ rights organizations, along with leading medical economists, sent a
letter on Sunday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, protesting against
planned cuts in health budgets.
“We... express our shock at the intention
to make an additional reduction in the health budget and call on you in a clear
demand not [to do it]! Not this year and not next year. According to a
careful calculation by experts in health economics, there is a deficit of NIS 9
billion in public expenditures for health. These funds are needed not to provide
the citizens with a luxurious health system, but to supply citizens with the
basic medical care set down by law,” they wrote to Netanyahu, who formally
serves as health minister.
Copies were sent to Deputy Health Minister
Ya’acov Litzman, ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu and heads of
Litzman and his officials did not initiate any public
protest against the cuts, and the ministry had no comment when asked for one on
The two-dozen petitioners noted that 40 percent of health
expenditures in Israel are privately funded – the highest figure among the
numerous countries that provide their residents with national health
“This points out the growing gaps in the lack of equity in
providing health care here and the growth in inefficiency in the system,” they
wrote. “The Supreme Court recently stated that the state has failed in its role
by not taking action to properly update the basket of health services. By doing
so, it harmed the health funds’ ability to provide the health services they are
bound to supply by law.”
The health system leaders added that as people
who are in the corridors of health fund facilities and public hospitals on a
daily basis, they regularly “see the faces of honest citizens and taxpayers, who
in their most difficult hours encounter an eroded and tired system and medical
teams whose strength has waned. We feel the pain of the patients who have to
wait for hours, days and months for vital medial treatment and feel the
frustration of doctors, nurses and other medical teams who can not give them the
medical treatment they were meant to provide,” they complained.
on to “remind” the prime minister that cutting the health budget “harms the
readiness of the population for emergencies, is a declaration of war on the
middle class and hurts the weak leaks of Israeli society.”
pensioners’ union in the Histadrut labor federation demanded that the government
cancel value-added tax on medications and other basic products, and called on
Netanyahu not to increase VAT by 1 percentage point, as planned. Union chairman
Gideon Ben-Israel said the higher costs would harm the functioning of the
elderly, a quarter of whom are defined as poor, with three-quarters of them in
the three lowest deciles of income.
The elderly take medications at 11
times and visit doctors at eight times the average rate of the general
population, Ben- Israel said.
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