(photo credit: Courtesy, Health Ministry)
The public health basket committee – which must make Solomonic decisions on which lifesaving medical technologies to add to those covered by the health funds, but has only NIS 460 million to cover them – is due to announce its decisions by the end of this week.
Members of the committee said at their last meeting that they must get additional funds to finish their work.
NIS 2.5 billion worth of lifesaving and life-extending medications and medical equipment were presented to the committee by their manufacturers and importers. Among them is a drug for treating the debilitating pediatric disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); a drug that improves the condition is Spinraza (nusinersen), but it costs NIS 2m. per year per patient, and there are 80 Israeli youngsters who suffer from the disease, 15 of them with the most serious cases. If all the children were to be supplied with the drug, little of the Treasury’s allocation for expanding the basket would remain.
Zionist Union MK Salah Saad sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also acting health minister, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon calling on them to transfer some of the NIS 20b. in surplus funds collected as taxes to the basket.
Copies were sent to Prof.
Ronni Gamzu, director-general of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center who is chairman of the public health basket committee; MK Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee; and MK Eli Alalouf, chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.
Many of the proposed drugs, said Saad, are for the treatment of cancer and other severe illnesses.
At least some of the surplus, he said, should be returned to the public and go to heal and extend the lives of Israeli patients.
After the MK demanded that the Knesset plenum hold an urgent discussion so as to increase the budget for the basket of health services, it was scheduled for Wednesday.