Health-basket advocacy group demands NIS 600m. expansion

Forum headed by former Supreme Court justice says that thousands of patients will be seriously harmed if money is not added.

medicines 88 (photo credit: )
medicines 88
(photo credit: )
The Treasury should immediately add at least NIS 600 million to next year's basket of health services instead of the NIS 275m. it has allocated, the Public Forum for Updating the Basket of Health Services said Tuesday. The forum said unless NIS 600 or more was added to supply vital drugs to patients through their health fund, thousands of them would be seriously harmed. The forum is headed by former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner and includes nearly 40 leading physicians, legal experts, health economists, philosophers, university presidents, scientists and medical administrators. It was appointed by the Israel Medical Association (IMA) to pressure the government and the Health Ministry's official, 16-member basket committee, which is meeting separately. "If the Knesset Finance Committee increases the allocation to NIS 400 million, we will welcome this, but even more funding than that is still urgently needed," the forum said in its interim report. Just 47 lifesaving and life-improving medications will cost NIS 615m. a year, it said. The forum said it was still assessing drug priorities. The forum's report, which was presented by IMA international policy director Dr. Ehud Kantor, said the 47 drugs "without doubt" needed to be added to the basket. They include Lucentis (for age-related macular degeneration), Erbitux for colon cancer, Avastin for lung cancer, Azilect for Parkinson's disease, Tykerb for metastatic breast cancer, Doxil for breast and ovarian cancer, Enbrel for psoriasis, Levemir and Galvus for diabetes, Ezetrol for high blood cholesterol, Prevenar vaccine against pneumococcal infections in children, Exjade for a surplus of iron in the bloodstream, Xeloda for recurrent colon cancer, and Emend for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. In a "normative country," the forum said, the basket of health services would be updated by at least 2 percent annually (in Israel's case, NIS 600m.), instead of the Finance Ministry deciding how much to give after being hounded by Health Ministry officials. No money was added to the basket in 2007, but the amount was about double the average in 2006. IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar called on the government to leave lifesaving drugs in supplementary health insurance policies of the four public health funds, as was offered by Maccabi and Clalit Health Services, instead of forcing people to purchase much more expensive private health insurance policies, as advocated by the Treasury and Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri. Since about 70% of the population has supplementary health insurance from their public insurer, Ben-Yizri has said, it was "unfair" that the remaining 30% not be included. Blachar said such a position was "crooked and ridiculous." The IMA insists that all lifesaving drugs and technologies be included in the basket of services.