(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH)
The long-awaited reform that would transfer responsibility for psychiatric care
from the Health Ministry to the four public health funds is getting “much
closer” to implementation, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman announced
Monday, saying he had persuaded Clalit Health Services – the largest insurer,
covering 52 percent of the population – to agree to it.
Asked to clarify,
Litzman’s spokeswoman Einav Shimron-Greenbaum said that “nothing has been
concluded. It is a process, and it is a very advanced stage, but the other
health funds have not agreed yet.”
Litzman made his announcement on
Monday at a conference on capitation and the health funds organized by the
National Institute for Health Policy Research. Chairing the conference at
Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute was new National Insurance Institute
director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef.
The deputy health minister said
that initially he had not been enthusiastic about the reform, but had realized
about two years ago that what was taking place in the absence of the reform was
a “catastrophe,” with long waits for psychiatric care in the community,
especially for children.
As the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health
Committee made no progress on a bill, and the Finance Ministry still opposes it,
Litzman decided to push the program through a back door and get the cabinet to
approve it. But the other three health funds have not yet voiced their
Under the reform, psychiatric illness will be regarded in the
same way as a physical illness and be included in the basket of health services
that the health funds provide. But implementation requires an injection of funds
from the Treasury.
“I wanted to do it through the Knesset committee, but
it was delayed, so we will do it alone,” Litzman said. “We will reach agreement
with all the health funds and then bring it for approval.”
announced that he would fight for a reduction in the costs young families had to
pay for baby formula and diapers.
“I had a discussion with my
director-general, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, on the high price of baby formula,” he
said. “It has to be reduced. There is no reason in the world for such a cost; it
must be lower for the consumer.”
He said he had met with the Treasury
official in charge of monopolies. “We do not have to wait for social
We can lower prices [of baby formula and diapers] so all
Shimron-Greenbaum did not say why Litzman intends to
intervene in the price of diapers, which is not under the Health Ministry
Litzman also announced that in a few months, his dental care plan
for children will expand to cover those up to the age of 12, rather than 10, as
is the case today.
“Eventually, it will cover all minors up to the age of
18,” he said, claiming that this reform was very popular.
has been criticism from professionals that the program could have been better
devoted to prevention of dental decay in children; that the ministry has refused
to allow academic institutions to conduct independent research on whether the
reform is effective; that the health funds previously offered subsidized dental
care to children with supplementary health insurance; and that because private
pediatric dentists were not included in the scheme, many say their dental
practices are collapsing.
The deputy health minister said that a third
reform, involving financing for geriatric care, was also on his agenda. It would
raise health taxes by half a percent, he said, so that residents would get basic
care in their old age without their adult children having to share costs of
Shimron-Greenbaum said Litzman’s proposed funding reform
of geriatric nursing had been sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is
formally the health minister.
Netanyahu will have to decide if he backs
Litzman or Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who strongly opposes raising
“Netanyahu has the material, and he is studying it,” she
said.A Health Page feature on the Van Leer conference on capitation will
appear on Sunday.