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The Finance Ministry intends to cancel a recently approved law providing benefits to polio victims, Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich warned on Wednesday.
Yacimovich said she received a draft of such a measure that the Treasury plans to include in the Economic Arrangements Bill to be passed along with the 2008 state budget.
About 1,100 Israelis were disabled by the polio virus during the early years of the state, before a vaccine was available. Now that many are middle-aged or elderly, their disabilities are generally getting more serious.
According to the draft obtained by Yacimovich, victims who apply for assistance for the first time will no longer receive one-time grants, and anyone who already received one and is entitled to a monthly disability allotment will have the grant fully deducted from his allotments.
According to the existing law, passed recently but not yet funded by the National Insurance Institute, polio victims whose disability has become more serious as they have aged are entitled to apply for additional compensation, even though they have already received a one-time grant.
The Treasury also wants to cancel the state's participation in payment for treatments and medical equipment to which patients are entitled under the law, Yacimovich said.
Yacimovich said she had been trying for two months to hold a Knesset discussion on transferring NIS 3 million to the National Insurance Institute to implement the law, but she had encountered delaying tactics. The polio law was passed by 83 MKs "and corrected unfairness that existed for years," she said.
She called on the general public and the disabled to protest against the Treasury's supposed plans.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman said the Treasury had prepared "only a draft, and the health minister does not relate to draft proposals. When the official version is brought to the cabinet, he [Ya'acov Ben-Yizri] will voice his position."