Litzman opponents slam slowdown in drug basket expansion

Although Deputy Health Minister described budget bill for 2011/12 as accomplishment, others criticized it.

litzman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
litzman 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Although Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman has described the budget bill for 2011/12 as an accomplishment, others criticized it – even though many details, including those of the arrangements bill, are not yet clear.
Opponents said they hoped changes would be made by the Knesset to make the budget “less harmful” to the health system.
Litzman on Friday said that for the first time, the Treasury would give an additional NIS 40 million for the health budget and a 1.2 percent annual increase in funding of the health funds as compensation for demographic changes, including the aging of the population and population growth.
However, instead of the basket of medications and medical technologies expanding by NIS 415m. per year, as had happened in the last two years, the basket will grow by only NIS 300m. a year over the next three years.
The Health Ministry said that by 2013, children up to the age of 14 – and not eight years as today – will get free or subsidized dental care.
Litzman said that the Treasury and the Health Ministry had agreed on additional funded hospital beds in various parts of the country, but no details were given. Health experts charge that thousands of beds are needed, as well as slots for doctors and nurses.
The deputy minister also said that more money would be allocated to develop hospital infrastructure that will be delivered to the psychiatric hospitals, but no figures were divulged. The ministry will also begin to implement a plan for reinforcing hospitals against missile and rocket attacks and allocate money to boost hospitals in the periphery.
Here too, no figures were provided.
The Israel Medical Association, which admitted it had too few details about the proposed budget, said Sunday that what has been decided “is not a solution to the major problems of the health system such as the lack of physicians and nurses, hospital beds and the periphery.”
In addition, an annual NIS 300m. increase in the basket – which apparently also includes new vaccinations – is too small to meet the needs of the public, the IMA said.
“We will continue to struggle so that the MKs insist on changes in the health budget,” it said. “We are very disappointed.”
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto – long an opponent of Litzman – said that the ministry was misleading the public. Instead of a 2% updating of the basket that the coalition parties promised before the last election, the government intends to cut its expansion, said Adatto, a physician.
The addition of NIS 300m. a year will be the lowest expansion in the last five years, she said.
“The Treasury succeeded in a psychological exercise to broadcast a feeling of lack of clarity and certainty about the basket.
Thus the cut was received with relief by a number of elements, including the pharmaceutical companies, which had expected an even larger cut,” she said.
The reduction in the basket expansion will be transferred totally to increasing the age groups for child dental care, she said.
“But this dental reform is currently in the legislative stage, and the health funds, which are due to provide the dental care, do not yet have the necessary infrastructure to carry it out. In addition, there is no mechanism for supervising this reform and measuring quality that will prevent the reform from becoming another Wisconsin Program for reducing unemployment [which was halted by the Knesset after being found faulty].”