High Court cancels gov't decision

Gov't changed health budget in favor of free dentistry for children.

By
May 20, 2010 21:47
2 minute read.
High Court of Justice [file]

high court panel citizenship law 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The High Court of Justice decided unanimously on Thursday, in an unprecedented  judgement, to cancel the government’s decision, initiated by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, to cut 65 million shekels from the expansion of the 2010 medical technologies’ budget in order to finance subsidized dental care for children up to the age of eight.

The three-member court panel of Justices Miriam Naor, Hanan Meltzer and Yitzhak Amit ruled that the government had not observed the National Health Insurance Law which required it to consult the Knesset. The court stated it was a rare case in which the Knesset voiced an opinion contrary to that of the government.

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The case was initiated by the Dolev Fund for Medical Justice, the Israel Medical Association (IMA) and the Movement for Quality Government, which objected to the fact that the basket of health technologies was cut at the last moment to supply other needs.

The Dolev Fund’s lawyer, Gilad Rogel, described the decision as a "victory for the patients for whom the money that must be returned to the basket is a life-and-death matter. Every day they wait for medications that they were prevented from getting in violation of the law. The High Court of Justice today fulfilled its very important social and public function, to protect the public from its elected officials and its government. Somebody should have stopped and reined in government power, and the court was the last barrier that prevented the law from being grossly violated."

He added that the fund did not deny that dental care for children and the elderly is important. "Our argument is with the method. We are not willing for this to happen at the expense of money given in compensation for increased costs of lifesaving drugs that were taken out of the supplementary health insurance policies".

Litzman presented the shifting of funds from the drug basket to dental care for children as a major accomplishment for him, which was highly popular among haredim with large young families. But his achievement evaporated even before the court decision, as the Prime Minister, and former health minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, with Treasury support, took steps to require the establishment of a fifth health fund to provide dental treatment.

The Health Ministry spokeswoman said the Ministry of Health, is nevertheless looking for ways to bring about dental subsidies for children at the planned commencement date of July 1st.

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