yaakov ben-yizri 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri rejected criticism by the Israel Medical Association of the new members of the committee that will recommend new medications and medical technologies for the 2008 health services basket.
The health funds must provide these drugs and technologies to members who need them, at state expense.
IMA Chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar, a member of the new basket committee, attacked the choice of nominees and called the committee an "impotent" body chosen according to the Treasury's directives.
"These are dark days for the health system," he said, adding that the IMA would consider whether to participate at all in the committee.
Blachar said that seven of the 16 members were state employees who might have a conflict of interest. In the previous committee, only three of 21 received their salaries from the government.
"There is no representative of patients' groups, no social economist, no expert for general ethics matters and no representation of many medical fields, such as family physicians. And there is no hospital director," he noted.
The Treasury approved the members because most of them were "tame and won't make problems or ask for additions to the budget for medications." He said the nominations were "final evidence of the Treasury's causing the Health Ministry's influence to shrink."
Ben-Yizri expressed surprise at Blachar's reaction and "forcefully rejected its content," the minister's personal spokesman, Tal Harel, said. Ben-Yizri said he had "full faith in the professionalism and objectivity" of the new committee, which represents "all sectors, including the public, ethicists, top economists and the health funds."
Harel maintained that Blachar had been informed "in advance" of who would be on the committee and had still agreed to participate.
However, Blachar said Tuesday that this was not true, as neither he nor the new committee chairman, Prof. Menahem Fainaru, had been consulted or told in advance who the members would be. They were "only told there would be four economists, four health fund representatives and so on," he said.
Fainaru, former dean of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and a senior medicine clinician, replaces Prof. Mordechai Shani, a former Health Ministry and Sheba Medical Center director-general.
Many of the new committee members have never served before. Besides Blachar, the committee, which is coordinated by Dr. Osnat Luxemburg, consists of Dr. Rahel Adatto of the National Council for Women's Health, Prof. Adi Shani of the National Oncology Council, new Health Ministry medical division head Dr. Hezi Levi, Prof. Yehoshua Shemer of Maccabi Health Services, Dr. Andy Whiteman of Kupat Holim Leumit, Dr. Nicki Lieberman of Clalit Health Services, Dr. Ze'ev Abramson of Kupat Holim Meuhedet, lawyer Dalia Rabin-Pelosof, health system ombudsman Etti Semama, ethicist Prof. Noam Zohar and Rabbi Yuval Cherlo, as well as economists Reuven Kagan of the Treasury, Iris Ginsburg of the veteran pension funds, Health Ministry official Yoel Lifschitz and Health Ministry planning and budgets director Ruth Ralbag.