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Public hospital charges up by over 6% this year
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
06/28/2012
The prices of services in the health system, including those provided by the public medical institutions, are updated every year.
 
Per-diem public hospital charges will soon increase by 1.4 percent following a decision by the interministerial committee on prices, which in January hiked the rates by 4.61%, the Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The committee had directed the Health and Finance Ministries to devise an “objective mechanism” for updating the daily price of hospitalization that the health funds pay the public hospitals for this service. The High Court of Justice previously called for updating of the per-diem hospitalization rate according to objective indices.

The prices of services in the health system, including those provided by the public medical institutions, are updated every year in accordance with the per-diem hospitalization rate set by the interministerial committee on prices. The updating is usually accomplished in January of each year. The prices committee is always asked to prepare its recommendation on per-diem hospitalization rates by the end of December.

But the Treasury said that this year, the updating of hospitalization rates was “more complicated” than usual because of the influence of major wage agreements signed with the doctors, nurses and other professional groups. Because of this complexity, the committee decided to set the new per-diem rate for 2012 in two stages. After the decision in January to hike rates by 4.61%, the committee said it would deliberate on the second increase in June after all the necessary data was collected.

As a result of the information, the additional amount was set at 1.4%.

Meanwhile, MK Ilan Gillon of Meretz attacked the decision of the interministerial committee to raise the per-diem hospitalization rate again, this time by 1.4%. “The health system has suffered from continued neglect over the years and the lack of adequate funding. It cannot be that the new wage agreements will come at the expense of patients. As health fund budgets are constantly eroded and the hospitals’ funding is dried up, the Netanyahu government is trying to raise money from hospital patients, including the elderly. He who has punished the public so far is now whipping them. There is apparently no limit to cynicism. This is a fatal blow to the right to health in Israel,” the MK said.

Last week, the High Court of Justice instructed the state to update – within six months – the amount of money it pays the four public health funds as subsidies for the basket of health services. The ruling followed, by almost a decade, petitions by Clalit Health Services and Maccabi Health Services about annually updating the medical services index by which the insurers are compensated.

The High Court decision, handed down by Justices Salim Joubran, Hanan Meltzer and Supreme Court president Asher Grunis, said there is a gap of between NIS 1.5 billion and NIS 2.3 billion between what the state owes the health funds and what they actually received as a result of the medical services index.

The prices committee also decided, even before the High Court of Justice ruling, to advance the process of changing the updating mechanism so that it would be based on independent indices, the Treasury said. “This decision is in accordance with the High Court decision” about debts to the insurers.

The prices committee asked the two ministries to present their recommendations on updating the technique by August of this year.

The Health Ministry said that it welcomed the increase in the perdiem hospitalization rate.

“We have a proposal regarding the mechanism for setting the price of per-diem hospitalization. It will soon be presented to the Treasury,” said a spokeswoman for the ministry.
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