Health and Finance ministries finalize budget as doctors’ strike ends

A total of 150 more job slots for medical residents will be added in public hospitals around the country so as to lighten the workload of existing residents.

Doctors perform surgery [illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Doctors perform surgery [illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A day after Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman threatened on Thursday to vote against the Treasury’s new budget, he reached agreement with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on an additional NIS 500 million for the health system, including expanding the health basket but without taxing supplementary public and commercial health insurance policies.
On Friday morning, a 24-hour doctors’ strike ended after the Israel Medical Association launched a protest against the lack of funds in the health system and issues affecting physicians.
A few weeks ago, both Litzman and Kahlon had hurriedly announced that the basket of health services would be expanded by NIS 550m.
a year, but with a tax on the supplementary policies, which aroused much opposition and caused Litzman to backtrack on the idea earlier this week.
The NIS 500m. – replacing the annual NIS 300m. basket expansion that had been in force for the last decade – will come solely from public sources and not from taxes of supplementary or commercial health insurance policies.
The total budget to be added to the basic budgets of the four health funds in 2017-2018 will be NIS 2.2 billion. Of this, NIS 1.5b. will go to upgrade the basket of medical technologies, NIS 300m. to improve the health cost index and NIS 400m. to cope with the aging of the population that will require a restructuring of health services, the two ministers said. An additional NIS 800m. will go to strengthen the financial stability of the health funds.
During the next six years, 1,200 general hospital beds are to be added to the system; 750 beds to geriatric institutions over the next five years and 150 more beds for psychiatric hospitals in the next five years.
A total of 150 more job slots for medical residents will be added in public hospitals around the country so as to lighten the workload of existing residents.
Some NIS 60m. of the money for public hospitals will be designated specifically for the smaller medical centers.
In addition, a team will be set up in the ministry to cope with the growing number of malpractice suits being filed against public hospitals. Some NIS 900m. will go for a national program to shorten queues for surgery and other procedures for which many patients wait for months.
Litzman said that after long negotiations, “we reached an agreement that provides significant additional resources in the coming years.. We will continue to work to strengthen the public health system and to promote better care in the periphery. In addition, we will continue to act in any way to promote reform in nursing.”
Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said that “the agreement offers responses to major challenges to the health system that are expected in the coming years, especially the aging population, both in the community and the hospitals. In addition, after years of neglect, the we are beginning to deal with the large gaps in the psychiatric care system.”