(photo credit: )
An extraordinary feud broke out on Monday between Sheba Medical Center at Tel
Hashomer, the country’s largest hospital, and Maccabi Health Services, the
second-largest health fund.
Sheba director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein
sent a letter to Health Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu, saying that
Maccabi has prevented dozens of its members from continuing to receive treatment
at the state-owned medical center.
Patients at Sheba, including adults
with cancer and heart diseases – as well as children in the middle of treatment
– cannot continue receiving treatment, Rotstein alleged.
difficulties and refuses to issue Form No. 17 referral slips to members who want
treatment at Sheba,” he said. He added that the hospital has set up a free help
center to help patients “whose rights have been harmed.”
Rotstein, some patients have left a deposit of their own money so they can
continue to get treatment at Sheba.
The dispute has been going on for
weeks, but exploded Monday in the form of dueling press releases issued by both
At the start of this month, Maccabi closed its longtime
service office for its members at Sheba for seven days, Rotstein said. Deeming
the act “discriminatory,” Rotstein demanded that Gamzu order Maccabi to cancel
Maccabi Health Services is the owner of the huge new
private Assuta Hospital, located near Sheba.
A health fund representative
charged that Sheba was turning its patients into “game pieces on an economic
field by delaying the discharge of Maccabi patients and freeing up of beds at a
time when hospital beds are at a premium.”
Maccabi director-general Dr.
Ehud Kokia said the ministry must quickly renew agreements between the hospitals
and the health funds on payments and other arrangements.
misleads the public and harms thousands of patients,” Kokia alleged. During the
first 10 days of 2011, Maccabi referred 6,486 members for treatment at Sheba,
compared to 5,325 during the same period last year, according to
“The figures speak for themselves,” Kokia said, adding that Sheba
“ejected on Monday morning, in a pushy and unprecedented act, [some] Maccabi
nurses from their office in the hospital. They are coordinators of continued
care for patients nearing the end of their hospitalization, and toward transfer
to nursing care institutions or their return home.”
A Maccabi spokeswoman
said that every patient who needs treatment in Sheba will receive financial
commitments without delay, adding that the thousands of patients who have been
referred since the beginning of the year can testify to that.
misused its power to take advantage of patients, and charges them private fees
by requiring them to sign checks as security if Maccabi does not cover the cost
of treatment,” a health fund administrator said.
Asked to comment, the
ministry spokeswoman said the health funds are bound to carry out agreements
with hospitals that they set for their members. Any change in choice
arrangements requires notice by the health fund 60 days before it takes effect,
and notification to the ministry.
“Maccabi has not yet informed us about
changes in its arrangements, and they are thus forbidden,” she said. “Any member
who is harmed is entitled to demand from his insurer the return of any money he
laid out. We will not allow patients to be harmed or hooliganistic behavior by
any of the sides.”