Committee rejects dental-care plan for elderly

Ministerial Committee on Legislation opposes bill because deputy health minister is working on his own plan.

January 23, 2012 03:10
2 minute read.
dental care

adult dental care. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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The Coalition for Public Dental Health expressed its disappointment Sunday with the Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s rejection of a private members’ bill to provide low-cost dental care to the elderly.

Many old people have trouble paying for dentures, implants and other rehabilitative treatment and are unable to eat properly, causing potentially serious health problems.

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The bill received the strong backing of Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud), along with that of 57 other MKs and voluntary organizations. The ministerial committee explained it opposed the bill because Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) is working on his own state bill to provide subsidized dental care for the elderly as part of the basket of health services. The Health Ministry declined to provide any details about Litzman’s plan, saying it was not yet ready to be launched.

“It is admirable that the government has announced that Litzman is advancing a state program, but the government plan has a number of significant flaws – it includes co-payments at an unknown rate and does not include rehabilitative care such as dentures and implants,” said a spokesman for the coalition, in which the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has had significant input.

Katz said that the ministry promised in previous sessions that the state bill will be advanced next month, adding that if it isn’t, there are plenty of parliamentary tools to push this important initiative. The Coalition for Public Dental Health called for MKs to vote for dental treatment for the elderly.

Rami Adut of ACRI, who has been closely involved in the private members’ bill, told The Jerusalem Post that the cost could be covered by raising health taxes collected by the National Insurance Institute by only 0.05 percent – and that there would not be a means test for coverage. Adut said that offering such care “without rehabilitation of the mouth would be a waste of time” and hoped the ministry would come around to understanding the need for dentures and implants to replace missing teeth.

Adut said that leading community dental medicine experts are involved in preparing a plan.

“There must be objective supervision of such a program,” he said, noting that a significant flaw in the existing children’s dental care program introduced by Litzman was that it lacks objective and comprehensive supervision.

“But there is room for optimism,” said Adut. “I am not totally saddened by the rejection of the private members’ bill, because the strong support in the Knesset has the power to influence positive changes in the government plan.”

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