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Rivlin: Give health budget same priority as defense

“Health equals security. Budget cuts in the health budget reduce security and the welfare of the population,” Rivlin says.

August 1, 2012 02:58
1 minute read.
Likud MK Reuven Rivlin

Rivlin 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has called on the government to regard healthcare as no less important to the country than defense.

Speaking at the sixth annual Israel Medical Conference of the Hadassah Medical Organization in the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Tuesday, Rivlin said he regularly visits wounded soldiers and accident victims in hospitals, and has always been impressed by the dedication of the medical staff – and struck by the lack of resources to relieve crowding and inadequate manpower and equipment.

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“Health equals security. Budget cuts in the health budget reduce security and the welfare of the population,” Rivlin said. “The government is correct in trying to close budget deficits, but if the government made an exception for security, it has to do the same for health.”

More reductions in hospital funding “mean longer queues, fewer nurses and a deep cut in the home front, which today is the actual front,” said the Likud MK.

Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman told the audience of 1,000 at the conference – which was open to the general public– that if he were a minister, he would have voted against the cuts approved by the state. He noted there was very little to be cut in his ministry, as a large portion of funds must be used as salaries and running expenses.

Litzman added that he was glad Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed at the last moment on Monday night to cancel a NIS 50 million cut. It would have postponed the construction of an underground and fortified emergency department at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, which is in the line of fire from Gaza.

Litzman reiterated that his ministry and the hospitals should not have to pay out of pocket for the medical care of tens of thousands of illegal migrants, including delivery of the 400 babies born to them annually.

As for Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, which over a month ago unilaterally instituted tuberculosis checks for migrants coming to the hospital, Litzman voiced his support, even though some senior ministry professionals had objected to it.

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