Court boosts groups opposed to 'free’ kid dental program

State will have to explain why it decided to transfer NIS 65 m. allocated for health basket.

By BY JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
February 9, 2010 00:39
1 minute read.
dentist 298

dentist 298. (photo credit: )

 
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The High Court of Justice instructed the government on Monday to explain within 30 days why it decided a few months ago to transfer NIS 65 million from the Treasury allocation for expanding the basket of health services and use it for a program to provide “free dental care” for children.

The Israel Medical Association, the Dolev Foundation for Medical Justice and the Movement for Quality Government – which filed the plea to the High Court – said they were optimistic that the government would be forced to reverse its decision. A temporary restraining order preventing the Health Ministry from using the funds for the dental program was issued by Justice Miriam Naor after a three-hour hearing.

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The organizations argued that people with disorders needed the NIS 65m. to receive medications from their health funds to save and extend their lives and improve their quality of life. They argued that the government had no right to take the money and use it for other purposes.

Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman initiated the policy change, first persuading the cabinet secretary to call government ministers late at night over the phone for approval of his plan and later persuading them to vote unanimously in favor. Litzman told the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee a few months ago that he would present his “detailed plan” for free dental care for children sometime in February.

The four public health funds already provide some free dental care to children whose parents have supplementary health insurance policies; three-quarters of the population have such coverage.

However, contrary to the IMA statement, Health Ministry deputy director-general Ya’ir Amikam stated on Monday that the High Court “refused to issue a temporary restraining order against the government.”

Amikam added that the deputy health minister “intends to meet the deadline, as he told the government, and bring an organized plan by the end of March.”

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The ministry did not explain how this jibed with Litzman’s promise to the Knesset committee that the detailed plan would be ready and presented to the public by the end of next month.

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