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Panel limits private doctors’ payments

Another amendment that was accepted was written to discourage doctors in the public sector from referring their patients to their private clinics.

October 23, 2015 03:38
2 minute read.
A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo.

A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Physicians and other medical professionals working in public or private medical facilities will no longer be allowed to accept any payment directly from patients. Instead, the copayments or other fees will be paid to the institution where the doctors are employed.

This amendment to the Arrangements Bill – which is soon to be passed by the plenum – was approved unanimously during its second and third readings on Thursday by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee, and will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

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Another amendment that was accepted was written to discourage doctors in the public sector from referring their patients to their private clinics.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov told the committee that 45 percent of private hospital operations are performed by surgeons from the public sector who refer patients to their own clinics.

A physician who treats a patient in the public system would not be able to treat him or her in a private hospital or clinic until four to eight months have passed, the amendment states.

Committee chairman and Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf said there are many shortcomings in the private medical system, and this is one of them. “Order and ethical principles must be introduced in the doctor’s dealings with the patient,” he added.

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) said: “We are not opposed to doctors, but today, the patient is anxious about his health and is willing to pay the physician anything he asks. This requires setting down rules.”

Yair Pines, the deputy budget director at the Treasury, said that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon directed officials to sever the economic connection between the doctor and the patient. “The price will be transparent, and there will be no dialogue with the physician over payments.”

However, Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman and other doctors present vociferously opposed the change. “Doctors are being singled out; There is no such demand of lawyers or accountants.

You take for granted that the doctor is taking advantage of the patient. The law does not limit the amount of money that the doctor sets down, but it adds a procedure that will cause the private medical institution to control the doctor completely and to demand payment for administrative services. Instead of strengthening public medicine, you are strengthening private hospitals, and this is insufferable.”

Dr. Amir Szold, a member of the Surgeons’ Association, added that “if a person trusts me enough to cut into his abdomen while he is under anesthesia, he should trust me to be fair with his money.”

Prof. Eyal Gur, chairman of the Union of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeons, asked that the amendment make an exception for elective surgery, such as aesthetic operations. “Private medicine is an engine that pushes forward the public system,” he argued.

Alalouf objected to statements made by some doctors who participated in the discussion, saying that, “The public health system is collapsing. This is a lie.It is not falling apart. It has to be improved, but stop scaring the public. It is irresponsible!”

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