Knesset panel okays dental program for children up to 8

Plan okayed until December, to be reassessed before renewal.

dentist illustrative 311 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
dentist illustrative 311
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
The Health Ministry’s program for giving children up to the age of eight subsidized dental care will be implemented after all, starting on July 1, after the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee gave formal approval to it on Monday. The High Court of Justice ruled a few weeks ago that the reform was illegal due to the ministry’s technical failure to get the committee’s approval before it was okayed by the cabinet.
The justices ruled that as dental care was a “new field,” the committee had to give its approval in advance, even though the Health Ministry has said that despite much discussion with the Justice Ministry, it was never told that this was a requirement.
Dental care – some of the procedures free and others costing up to NIS 20 per treatment – for children has been a priority of Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who wanted to cover all minors but did not collect enough funds to make it possible. Earlier this year, he persuaded the cabinet to take NIS 65 million out of the increment to the 2010 basket of medical technologies, a move that was opposed by the Israel Medical Association, the Dolev Foundation and others.
Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee chairman MK Haim Katz said the parliament “wants to use its authority to supervise government activities in a real and efficient way.
Thus it demands to see the dental care program that the government wants to launch.” Katz said his committee approved the dental program from July 1 to November 30 and would then decide whether to renew it, depending on how it will be implemented.
Litzman told the committee that he would “not rest until dental care for all children through the age of 18 is provided at the state’s expense. I will not agree to the establishment of a fifth health fund” for this purpose – a demand that was made by the Treasury.
Litzman’s new director-general, Dr Ronni Gamzu, added that the dental program was “the first time in 15 years that we are introducing a new field to the health basket. We are aligning ourselves with what is being done in the rest of the world. Our main aim is to increase Israeli children’s access to dental care.”
Israel Cancer Association director general Miri Ziv, who demanded that life-saving and life-extending drugs that were supposed to be included in the basket remain there and not be lost because of dental care for children, said the argument was over funding the drug basket and not having dental treatment come at its expense.
The Israel Medical Association, which opposed deducting the NIS 65m. from the basket, welcomed the MKs decision to approve the change through November and then discuss a renewal depending on its success or failure. “It depends on you in the committee whether this will be a real program or just ‘spin’ in the media,” said IMA chairman Dr Leonid Eidelman. He insisted that the new program not be launched at the expense of the drug basket.
The IMA wants the program to be funded by additional Treasury funds instead and supports MK Rachel Adatto’s demand that subsidized dental care for the elderly and other needy sectors be supplied as well.