Knesset panel: National plan needed for healthcare system

Committee calls on Netanyahu to seriously consider gaps in health services as national problem.

RonniGamzu311 (photo credit: Sourasky Medical Center)
(photo credit: Sourasky Medical Center)
The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee called on Tuesday for a national program to narrow gaps in healthcare among various socioeconomic and ethnic groups, adopting a call by voluntary organizations urging equity between Jews and Arabs, rich and poor, recent immigrants and veteran residents.
The committee called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally the health minister, to regard the gaps in health services as a national problem and to present a comprehensive program for reducing inequity.
The health status of most low-income people, Arabs, Ethiopian immigrants and other disadvantaged groups is much lower than that of more established populations, even though the National Health Insurance Law was meant to be equitable.
Health Ministry Director- General Dr. Ronni Gamzu said that the erosion of public health services as private medicine becomes stronger is partly responsible for the widening gaps.
MK Haim Oron of Meretz said that inequity in healthcare is the system’s “most serious problem” and that the gaps are growing all the time.
Adva Center director Barbara Swirsky, who was among the initiators of the discussion, said that the two largest health funds, Clalit Health Services and Maccabi Health Services, are working to minimize the social gaps, but that the Health, Welfare, Education and Environmental ministries must join in, along with the local authorities.