holocaust survivor 311.
(photo credit: Isaac Harari)
Some 80,000 Holocaust survivors will receive subsidies of up to 90 percent on essential health and medical supplies, under an agreement reached with the Treasury and the Health Ministry, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry announced on Sunday.
“This is the obligation of the State of Israel toward survivors ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog said in a statement. “It is the basic form of solidarity.”
He explained that the new arrangement, which goes beyond the standard discounts on medical supplies provided by the four health funds, was a gesture ahead of next week’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Under the agreement, Herzog’s ministry will receive about NIS 50 million a year to go toward subsidized dental treatments, eye glasses, hearing aids and personal counseling. The level of the subsidies will depend on the recipient’s age, the ministry said.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Meyers Brookdale Institute, many Holocaust survivors suffer from cardio-vascular disorders and chronic emotional grief related to their experiences. Many of the medicines needed to treat these conditions are not adequately covered by the health funds.
This time last year, official figures estimated that 270,000 Holocaust survivors were living in Israel. Non-profit organizations working with the survivors suggest that a third of them live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on state pensions and with very little additional assistance or benefits. In some cases, survivors must decide on a daily basis between buying food and medicines.
Even though there have been concerted efforts by the Ministries of Welfare and Social Services and Pensioners Affairs to distribute additional benefits, a government report published last year shows that less than half of the survivors claim the financial and other benefits they are entitled to under the law.