Even before entering Health Ministry, Litzman chides IMA chief and previous health minister

His first priority, Litzman said, was hospital emergency rooms, to which specialists are called but are not on duty around the clock.

Yaakov Litzman est confiant. Le prochain gouvernement se fera avec les ultraorthodoxes (photo credit: YOEL LEVI)
Yaakov Litzman est confiant. Le prochain gouvernement se fera avec les ultraorthodoxes
(photo credit: YOEL LEVI)
Soon-to-be deputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman on Wednesday defended his nomination of a ministry director-general from outside the health field, after the Israel Medical Association protested the move earlier this week.
Litzman would be the first Health Ministry head in 67 years to name a non-physician – treasury health budget director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov – to the post.
“I have brought a director-general not from the health system. There was criticism by [IMA chairman Dr. Leonid] Eidelman, but I have a surprise for the IMA chairman. ‘Barsi’ knows the Health Ministry better than him and the Finance Ministry better than me,” Litzman said at the annual conference of the National Institute for Health Policy Research in Tel Aviv.
Earlier this week, Eidelman said that the ministry post was “a professional position that requires the taking of decisions that are strictly medical. Only a physician who is bound by medical ethics and required to give clear priority to medical considerations, especially the good of patients, over the cold calculations of cost-benefits [should be ministry director-general].”
He added that the director-general “needs medical knowledge to regulate the medical profession and issue medical directives to the health system. We oppose the candidacy of a Treasury official who... favors drying up the health system and forcing doctors to ‘be more efficient’ at the expense of patients.
We oppose the choice of a man who is an expert only in budgeting and not medicine and management.”
The IMA is considering taking action to prevent Bar Siman-Tov’s appointment.
Litzman also said that he has “had the headache of the health system already for a month [since he was designated to run the ministry] and even two years [when Yesh Atid MK Yael German was health minister]. We have excellent medicine in Israel, and we have to say thank you to [former health minister] Haim Ramon for the biggest social reform ever carried out here [the National Health Insurance Law].”
However, he went on, “with every reform, changes have to be made. After 20 years, it needs an overhaul.”
Regarding the mental health care reform that will begin on July 1 – in which the ministry will transfer responsibility for psychiatric care to the health funds – Litzman said he had originally opposed the move, but later agreed to it. Even so, he added, he intends to make “necessary changes” in this as well.
Referring to the German Committee, which German spent over a year heading and which proposed changes Litzman now intends to roll back, he said he had no intention of setting up a “Litzman Committee,” except perhaps to reform the nursing system. He said he “didn’t know” what to do about the Government Hospital Authority that German established under Esther Dominissini, which was meant to take over ownership of state hospitals from the ministry. The authority had already hired staffers, but its work has been frozen.
“I have to examine that [authority]; in the past, I opposed it,” said Litzman.
His first priority, he said, was hospital emergency rooms, where specialists are called in but are not on duty around the clock. He suggested that until additional specialists joined the system, retired physicians could be brought back to work in emergency rooms on weekends.