'Don’t accept small health basket budget'

Former head of public c'tee Prof. Menachem Fainaru calls on the new committee to refuse to convene next week.

RAFAEL BEYAR (photo credit: (Courtesy/Rambam Health Care)
(photo credit: (Courtesy/Rambam Health Care)
The former head of the public committee to recommend how to expand the basket of medical technologies called on the new committee to refuse to convene next week.
The budget agreed upon by the Treasury and Health Ministry for 2012 was too small to meet the needs of patients, he said.
Prof. Menachem Fainaru, former dean of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who was chairman of the “basket committee” in 2008 and 2009, said Wednesday that the NIS 300 million allocated will provide new medications and other medical technologies to only a quarter of the patients who need them. In his day, said Fainaru, he had NIS 450 million to add to the basket, and even then, the decisions were very difficult to make.
Speaking at a meeting of the Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health, Fainaru and others called on the new committee headed by Rambam Medical Center Director-General Prof. Rafael Beyar to “take responsibility, not give in and not to start with such a small budget.”
The coalition insists on an automatic two percent increase in the basket of services, which has been demanded by health experts for years but has been rejected by the Finance Ministry, which has veto power on health allocations.
Shmuel Ben-Ya’acov, a member of the coalition, said Treasury allocations to reach agreements with the hospital residents and the new labor agreement with the Israel Medical Association will “erode the budget for the health basket,” causing the situation to worsen. The proposed medications save, prolong or improve the quality of life, and failure to add them harms the public. Never before has the public had to pay so much out of pocket on health expenses as the Treasury reduces its share, he said.
Former MK Haim Oron, who is also part of the coalition, said the social gaps in health care are “huge and terrible.”
In 2008, the public committee had NIS 500 million to allocate new technologies, but today there is only NIS 300 million to choose among 600 ones that have been presented for consideration.
Only 8% of the Gross Domestic Product is spent healthcare, and the public pay 40% of that, the coalition members said.
The government has not yet committed itself to allocate any money to expand the basket in 2013. Polls have shown that 14% of adults forgo medication and treatments and medication because they can’t afford even the copayments for the subsidized drugs they need.
The speakers said that in recent years, the Health Ministry – which has no power to set the sum for expansion of the basket – has claimed that NIS 300 million is “enough” for a year. “But,” said its critics, “this includes only lifesaving drugs and not those who prolong life or improve the quality of life for patients.