A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Assuta Medical Centers and other private hospitals have been carrying out a massive media and lobbyist campaign to fight the government’s intention to tax and restrict private medicine.
A section of the Treasury’s Economics Arrangement Bill aims at strengthening the public health system and reducing, or at least preventing, the expansion of private medical centers.
Recent full-page newspaper ads paid for by the private hospitals have called for “not hastily approving this major reform without public discussion.” The reform has been promoted by Health Minister Yael German and is supported by her fellow Yesh Atid member Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
The Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organization, the Adva Center, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Forum for Social Justice have voiced their opposition to the campaign. The voluntary organizations said Thursday they oppose efforts to prevent legislation to reduce private medicine.
They said the vested interests include not only the private hospitals but also doctors who provide foreign tourists with medical care, facilities that operate on Israelis with private health insurance and supplemental policies from the four public health funds, various medical societies whose members provide much private treatment, the Maccabi Health Fund (which owns the chain of Assuta Medical Centers) and others.
Statistics show in recent years the significant growth of private healthcare expenditures at the expense of public hospitals and clinics.
“Private medicine flourishes almost without supervision,” the organizations said.
“They are doing this to protect their narrow interests.” Patient groups are among those who have come out in favor of the Economic Arrangements Bill.
The private medicine interests abandon all responsibility and social solidarity and aim to make money, while they completely forget the more than 25 percent of the population – more than two million men, women and children” who cannot pay for private care, the pro-public health organizations added.
The ads maintain that private medicine is important to reduce the crowding and shorten the queues for treatments and operations in public hospitals.
The pro-public medicine organizations said that for a year, the German Committee, headed by the health minister, deliberated and came out against public medicine.
“While we are not completely satisfied with the report,” the human rights groups are in favor of the recommendations. The ads are evidence of “manipulation,” they said. “