Knesset takes on hospital parking

MK says c'tee has received many complaints from long-term patients whose families were forced to pay large parking expenses.

Free parking (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Free parking
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Doctors are not the only ones in the health system with money woes – visitors and patients have recently filed numerous complaints with MKs regarding what they describe as exorbitant parking fees at hospitals.
The Knesset’s Public Petitions Committee held a special recess meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
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While some hospitals, such as the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer charge nominal fees such as NIS 20 per day, others exact nearly NIS 60 per day.
“Parking is a necessary service for patients and those who come to visit them. Parking at hospitals should not serve as a cash cow,” committee chairman Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said.
Maklev said that committee had received many complaints from patients who have been hospitalized for long periods, causing their families to pay high parking expenses when visiting them. Maklev, who is a member of the same Knesset faction as Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, said the Health Ministry must determine “clear guidelines regarding exemptions and discounts for long-term patients.”
Hospital representatives said their institutions were forced to shoulder the burden of building parking facilities, and should thus be entitled to charge users to cover those costs. If the Treasury or the Health Ministry agreed to subsidize the costs, the hospitals could avoid charging for parking, they said.
MKs threatened to consider legislation to regulate the parking fees in the event that the Health Ministry failed to take action. Kadima MK Ze’ev Bielski is already preparing a bill to provide increased oversight, and says a 2008 Health Ministry directive gave exemptions to outpatients undergoing long-term treatment.