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After months of delays, Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri received approval Monday from Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On for the appointment of a new public committee to recommend which drugs and medical technologies will be included in the 2008 basket of health services.
Drugs and services in the basket are provided to relevant patients by the four health funds, at Treasury expense.
"I am aware of the fact that much time has passed between the time the previous committee finished its work and the appointment of the new committee," said Ben-Yizri, "but we can now say that careful and complex work has been done to find the most qualified representatives."
No Treasury funding had been allocated to expand the 2007 basket, as the 2006 increase was twice the usual amount, but the new panel has around NIS 300 million to "spend" on new medications and technologies from among over NIS 1 billion worth of proposed drugs and technologies.
The committee is supposed to make its recommendations on priorities to the Health Ministry before the end of December.
The panel's new chairman is Prof. Menachem Fainaru, former dean of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and a senior medicine clinician. He replaces Prof. Mordechai Shani, a former Health Ministry and Sheba Medical Center director-general.
Many of the committee members have not served before. The panel, which is to be coordinated by Dr. Osnat Luxemburg, is comprised of: former deputy defense minister Dalia Rabin-Pelosof; Rabbi Yuval Cherlow; Dr. Rahel Adatto (National Council for Women's Health); Prof. Adi Shani (National Oncology Council); Dr. Hezi Levi (new head of the Health Ministry's medical division); Dr. Yoram Blachar (chairman of the Israel Medical Association); Prof. Yehoshua Shemer (Maccabi Health Services); Dr. Andy Whiteman (Kupat Holim Leumit); Dr. Nicki Lieberman (Clalit Health Services); Dr. Ze'ev Abramson (Kupat Holim Meuhedet); Etti Semama (health system ombudsman); Prof. Noam Zohar (ethicist); and economists Reuven Kagan (Treasury); Iris Ginsburg (veteran pension funds); Yoel Lifschitz (a Health Ministry official who supervises health funds); and Ruth Ralbag (Health Ministry planning and budgets director).