Health Ministry to cut waiting time for surgery, red tape for subsidized geriatric homes

Litzman sees subsidies for those suffering from celiac disease who need gluten-free food – which tends to be more expensive.

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said Tuesday shortening queues for urgent but elective operations and pushing a basic geriatric nursing care bill through the Knesset were two of his goals for 2017.
After hearing the idea at an OECD conference for health ministers recently, Litzman said he decided that anyone who has waited a “long time” – 30 days for the most urgent surgical procedures at a hospital with which the patient’s health fund has an agreement – will be able to go to another hospital with a shorter queue.
If the procedure is “not urgent,” Litzman said, “and he finds a hospital where the wait is at least 60 days shorter than at the hospital to which his health fund (has an agreement) he can go there for the operation.
As for geriatric nursing, red tape at ministry offices involved in finding a place for elderly patients will be reduced. The system is being digitized, so relatives will need to go to fill out forms only once and not three or four times.
In addition, procedures to calculate how much family members must pay for hospitalization in geriatric institutions of their loved ones will be simplified and participation will be reduced.
Litzman added that subsidies will be given to people suffering from celiac disease and need food without gluten; today, these basic foods are much more expensive.
Turning to smoking, Litzman said he opposed smoking but remains opposed to “ghastly graphic images” of the serious damage to health caused by cigarettes. He added that he opposes a total prohibition of tobacco advertising. These two steps are becoming much more common around the world and are part of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to which Israel was a signatory more than a decade ago. But the health minister said he would do other things to discourage smoking.
Litzman also unveiled symbols of healthful (low salt, fat and sugar) foods and nonhealthy ones that processed foods will have to have on labels.