Health Basket Committee 311.
(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH)
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman found himself at odds with both his
director- general, Dr. Ronni Gamzu, and the Knesset Finance Committee Tuesday
regarding the expansion of the health basket.
A few weeks ago, Gamzu had
asked for a 10-percent reduction in the NIS 300 million that the Treasury has
added to the basket of medical technologies for 2012.
That 10% would be
reallocated to enable reduced co-payments for disadvantaged
However, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Finance Committee, Litzman
disagreed and said the basket expansion sum, which would provide subsidized
drugs for patients who need them, should not be reduced.
The MKs on the
committee reiterated its demand that a law be passed to update the basket
automatically by 2% every year, thereby avoiding the need for the Finance
Ministry to decide on the amount annually.
However, Litzman has not
publicly expressed his backing for such a move since he took
Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said he, too, opposed
reallocating the expansion money, because the NIS 300m. was vital for patients
and needed to cover medications for a growing and aging
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, one of three MKs who
initiated the discussion, demanded an automatic annual update despite Treasury
opposition. Not only did she oppose reducing the health basket sum, she attacked
Litzman for not fighting vigorously to expand it by much more than NIS 300m.; in
previous years, the sum was double that amount.
In response to Adatto,
Yair Zilberstein, representing the Treasury’s Budget Division, said that in the
last three years, the prices of drugs had declined because of the fall in the
value of the dollar.
“NIS 300m. today is like NIS 450m. a few years ago,”
Although Litzman said he had vetoed Gamzu’s proposal for a 10%
reduction in the expansion money, he himself pushed for a reduction of NIS 65m.
in the expansion funds a few years ago so he could offer subsidized dental care
for children up to eight years old.
Israel Medical Association
representatives at the meeting said that since the National Health Insurance Law
was passed in 1994, state investment in health had continued to erode, and the
public’s outof- pocket spending had risen considerably.
As a result, many
low-income patients forgo medical treatment they need, they said.
also gave its support for updating the basket automatically.