Medicine pills drugs prescription 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Knesset on Wednesday voted down a bill that would automatically increase the
budget for the basket of medical technologies by 2 percent each
Numerous political leaders from Prime Minister and (formally)
Health Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on down had come out in favor of an identical
bill presented in the previous Knesset.
This time, however, they opposed
the legislation. That meant the current bill did not have the government’s
support, and had to be submitted as a private member’s bill.
drug that politicians in this country need is a pill against amnesia,” MK Ilan
Gilon (Meretz) said.
MK Zehava Gal-On, who initiated the current
legislation along with other Meretz MKs, said on a more serious note: “People
forgo medications they need because they can’t afford to buy them. Private
expenditure for health is twice as large in Israel as in other OECD countries.
This bill is egalitarian. It represents social justice. Life expectancy is
rising, but if people don’t have quality of life, more years have no
“Israeli medicine is among the best in the world, but many
technologies remain outside the basket because of its low budget. Health
services must be available to all, and no one should be forced to mortgage his
home to pay for his health.”
Patient organization representatives charged
that before the last election was held in February 2009, ministers “looked us in
the eye without blinding and promised to support legislation to ensure automatic
increases in the basket,” Gal-On said.
“Without such a mechanism, Health
Ministry officials have to beg the Treasury to increase allocations. Budget
officials prefer to ‘play’ with the budget as they like without a law that would
limit their power.
This is one of the anti-social acts of the Netanyahu
government, whose members were among the strong supporters of the bill two years
The bill was first presented by then-MK Haim Oron (Meretz), and
before the election, MK Yuval Steinitz – now finance minister – and his Likud
party supported it, the patients’ groups said. It was also pointed out that
Defense Minister Ehud Barak (then Labor, now of Independence), Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu), Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and
other prominent leaders committed themselves to support the
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism)
has not voiced support for the bill.
The public committee for updating
the basket, due to present its recommendations by the end of the month, has been
presented with some 600 new medications and other medical technologies – some of
them lifesaving, some life-extending and others that would improve the quality
of life for hundreds of thousands of citizens. They would cost NIS 3 billion to
include in the basket, but the Treasury has agreed to an increase of only NIS
300 million in 2012.
Gal-On said that the financing of the basket has
eroded in recent years, increasing the social and economic gaps. As a result, a
fifth of the population can’t afford to pay for supplementary health insurance
from their health funds.