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The Israel Medical Association and the Israel Health Consumers Association (ZVI) petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday against Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's ruling that the Health Ministry's public committee on the basket of health services withhold its recommendations until after the elections.
The petition calls on the government to allow the "basket committee" - which was supposed to hand down its recommendations 10 days ago - to announce them and on the cabinet to meet urgently this week to approve the list. Mazuz maintained that the basket's size and contents could be influenced by the election campaign.
The basket of health services is comprised of all medications and medical technologies that must be supplied by the health funds to appropriate patients. Whatever is not in the basket must be purchased by patients with their own money.
The IMA noted that any further delay in approval of new medicines and technologies could harm thousands of patients. One candidate drug, for example, helps prevent recurrent strokes, while another replaces an invasive treatment in which a needle in inserted into the patient's abdomen each night.
IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar - a member of the basket committee - noted that there were political influences year round, and not only during an election campaign. Every year, when the state budget was being prepared, pressures were put on decision-makers, thus coming up before the vote was not a relevant reason for postponing the announcement of the expansion of the basket, he said.
The Treasury has allocated only NIS 200 million to expand the 2006 basket, much less than last year and way below the NIS 300m. regarded by the IMA as the minimum for meeting basic needs.