Litzman: State will subsidize supplementary health insurance for poor

Deputy minister says Israeli medicine is excellent and admired by many other countries but there is suffering from long queues, manpower shortages and nosocomial (in-hospital) infections.

Ya'acov Litzman, the deputy health minister (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ya'acov Litzman, the deputy health minister
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman intends to put lifesaving drugs not included in the basket of health services into the four health funds’ supplementary health insurance policies.
Since 80 percent of the public hold these policies, while 10% do not because they have private insurance and the rest are too poor to buy them, the ministry will pay for supplementary policies for the poor, he added.
Litzman was speaking at the Ninth Annual Israel Medical Conference at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, organized by the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), with sponsorship by the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Haifa’s Bnai Zion Medical Center, and various organizations. The nine-hour event on medicine and society, open free to the general public, was attended by some 1,000 people.
Litzman said that while Israeli medicine is excellent and admired by many other countries, there is suffering from long queues, manpower shortages, and in-hospital infections.
“I see these in my surprise visits to hospital emergency rooms,” he noted.
There is a basic need for a fundamental change in funding, to bring about a revolution in the budgeting of hospitals and health funds, which are deep in deficits, he said.
“Closer supervision of the system is needed. A hospital director can’t do what he wants all year, and then we [the ministry] has to cover it.... The health system needs a shakeup.”
Nearly every speaker referred to the violence in Israeli society and the horrific events of the past week that included both “Jewish terrorism” and Palestinian terrorism. MC Oshrat Kotler asked Litzman to address the issue of the murder by a haredi man of Shira Banki at the Gay Pride Parade and that of a Palestinian baby in his village home, but Litzman, she said, ignored her question.
Acting HMO director-general Prof.
Tamar Peretz, whose replacement has been sought for over a year without success, said that since its last conference a year ago – when the medical organization was at risk of financial collapse – it is “now coming out of the crisis.” It has reduced costs, brought back donors and research, and restored previous medical activity, she said.
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman bemoaned the fact that 20 years ago, the government canceled the employers’ “parallel tax” that brought into the health system hundreds of millions of shekels a year.
Since then, as much as NIS 20 billion has been lost to the health system.
“There is high-quality medicine here, but there is too little availability of services to patients,” he added.
Former finance minister MK Yair Lapid was supposed to speak about help to Holocaust survivors, but he quickly veered into a long speech about the lack of bold leadership and morality and “the need to stop being divisive tribes” and to join together as communities to ensure the moral caliber and leadership of the country