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The public committee that recommends additions to the basket of health services will not meet until after the elections, following a directive from Attorney-General Meni Mazuz, who maintained that the committee's decisions could have been affected by the electoral considerations. The committee, headed by former Health Ministry director-general Prof. Mordechai Shani, was due to have announced on Thursday its recommendations for how to spend the NIS 200 million allocated by the Treasury for expanding the basket.
The basket of health services consists of drugs and technologies paid for by the health fund. Usually, the committee makes its recommendations to the ministry, and the ministry presents its decisions for the following year to the cabinet before the end of each year. In 2004, delays prevented the committee from meeting because the size of the allocation was not decided in time.
Patients' groups desperate for funding of lifesaving, expensive drugs and pharmaceutical companies have for months held campaigns pressuring government officials, journalists and others.
Now the committee of 24 members will have to wait until after March 28. Health Minister Ya'acov Edri, speaking on behalf of ministry management, said Wednesday night that he regretted Mazuz's ruling because patients are desperately waiting for drugs they cannot afford. At the same time, Edri said, "we accept the attorney-general's decision."
The Israel Medical Association, which has representation on the basket committee, reacted angrily about the postponement, saying Mazuz apparently based his ruling on misconceptions. Mazuz's office said that Shani had told him a two-week delay was of no major consequence, as the decision had been delayed already by several months.
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