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The Health Ministry is studying the decision by the Tel Aviv District Labor Court to freeze until further notice the Treasury's plans to transfer family health (tipat halav) centers from ministry and municipality responsibility to that of the four public health funds.
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Avi Yisraeli is to consult with the Finance Ministry about the decision, especially about who will pay for well-baby and pregnant-woman monitoring services offered in tipat halav centers. The Finance Ministry has for years been trying to transfer responsibility for the centers to the health insurers out of the conviction that it would save money, but public health experts insisted it would mean a severe downgrade of such services.
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri has stated officially that he and the ministry oppose the Treasury's plans, as health fund staff members are trained to treat disease rather than to prevent it and healthy babies would be received at the same clinics as sick patients. But Ben-Yizri insisted that adequate budget be supplied to the ministry for providing the services.
The Nurses Union hailed the court decision on Wednesday, saying it was a victory for social responsibility and against the privatization of public health services. It was the union that filed the lawsuit against the government to prevent the transfer.
Union lawyer Naomi Landau said the ruling will prevent Kupat Holim Meuhedet from keeping open a number of its own family health centers that it recently launched.
For historical reasons, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are the only municipalities that provide tipat halav services. The Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization established the first well-baby services almost a century ago in Jerusalem, and later in Tel Aviv.
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