Health Minister Yael German 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
After the budget vote on Tuesday morning, Health Minister Yael German said she
was very pleased with the result, although NIS 150 million in cuts were made to
the health budget, an additional NIS 1 billion was allocated to expand economic
resources for the financially troubled public health system.
public health funds, and the ministry itself, were the main benefactors and are
charged to carry out obligations in the community and hospitals. The insurers
will receive a total of NIS 100m.-140m. in compensation for demographic changes
(older members with more disease).
In addition, the health cost index
will change to make compensation for the funds more realistic compared to their
costs, German said.
“This arrangement gives an appropriate answer to the
recent ruling of the High Court of Justice on updating financing of the health
funds,” she added.
The basket of health services will be updated during
the next two years by NIS 300m. each time – the same as in the previous three
years, but it will not be cut.
Health experts have insisted that the
basket be updated by an automatic two percent each year (this would double the
expenditure to cope with the aging and expansion of the population), but the
Treasury vetoed the idea.
As for the per diem rates for hospitalization,
German said a “historic agreement” was reached with the Treasury to “promote
prices in the general hospitalization system using only external
This, she said, “is a significant breakthrough that will
contribute to the independence of hospitals.”
Despite Treasury threats to
increase co-payments for prescription medications and other medical services,
they will not be hiked.
German said that between 2013 and 2018, the
ministry’s development budget will increase by NIS 380m. This money will be used
to build more hospital facilities and finance manpower and equipment, not only
in general hospitals but also psychiatric institutions.
An additional 185
psychiatric beds will be provided under this agreement.
Money was also
provided to increase the number of medical students by 50 next year. This will
bring their number in the five university medical schools to an unprecedented
The minister said that in the last six weeks since she took
office, she became convinced that she must work hard to strengthen the public
health system, invest in weak populations and narrow socioeconomic gaps.
Additional financial sources for the system, especially for the health funds,
will “improve service to the people. I am aware of the existing shortage and the
many challenges that we face, but I believe the budget brings a message of
development, growth and the strengthening of the public health
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said
after the budget was finalized that “there is no doubt the public medical system
needs much more funding to meet our needs. The details made public provide only
a partial answer. On the one hand, we welcome the increase in funding to the
public insurers, the hike in the number of medical students and cancellation of
higher co-payments by the public. On the other hand, we see that what one hand
gives, the other hand takes. It seems that the basket of health services will
not be increased, and that the ministry’s budget will be cut by NIS
The result, said Eidelman, is that “the economic program for
health is really inadequate. As we warned in the past, there is a need to invest
no less than NIS 3b. more to try to reach the rates in the leading OECD
countries. If not, patients will remain in the corridors, they will wait long
periods for operations and other medical procedures and we won’t be able to take
advantage of the most advanced medical technologies. Without additional
investment, there is no high-quality and equitable medicine.”