Finance Ministry hands out NIS 570m. to health system

Money will be used to reduce deficits of 4 public health funds, improving medical infrastructure, especially in the periphery.

Yair Lapid, Yael German announce new funds for health (photo credit: Courtesy Ziv Medical Center)
Yair Lapid, Yael German announce new funds for health
(photo credit: Courtesy Ziv Medical Center)
The Treasury will allocate NIS 570 million to “strengthen the public health system,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Health Minister Yael German announced on Thursday at a meeting in Safed’s Ziv Medical Center.
The two said that the money will be spent reducing the deficits of the four public health funds and improving medical infrastructures, especially in the periphery.
In recent years the deficits in the health funds have been estimated at billions of shekels, with a shortage of medical staffers, hospital beds and other infrastructure as well as lack of funding for disease prevention and health promotion.
In addition, it has been a Treasury practice to let the health funds and public hospitals fall severely into debt; demand efficiency measures and other cuts and then bail them out – but only partially.
The two ministers said that of the NIS 570m., NIS 360m. will go to the health funds (NIS 90m. to each); and NIS 60m.
for dental care for children via the four public health insurers.
In addition, NIS 150m. will be spent on infrastructure – NIS 45m. to purchase MRI scanners for hospitals in the periphery, not only those owned by the government but also those of Clalit Health Services – and making them more accessible to residents of outlying areas.
The hospitals that will get MRIs are Poriya Hospital near Tiberias, Ziv Medical Center, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and another hospital, owned by Clalit.
The funding will be allocated equally, NIS 9m. each.
Of the NIS 150m., NIS 1m. will go to complete the national project for bolstering Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center against missile and rocket attacks.
NIS 15m. will go to establish an accelerator for Ziv Medical Center, which will make it possible to provide radiation treatment to cancer patients in the North – something that has been unavailable beyond Haifa.
A total of NIS 20m. will be spent on developing a national data project to promote digitalization of data so that patient information can be transmitted securely among health funds and hospitals to speed up and improve treatment and make retesting unnecessary.
An additional NIS 10m. will be spent on maintenance of emergency medicine facilities, according to a plan to be prepared in 2014, while NIS 20m. will go for equipment in the general hospitals.
Lapid said that hospitals in the periphery cannot provide adequate treatment to the many patients living in their areas.
As such Ziv Medical Center, and other smaller hospitals, need to get the medical equipment they need so as to rectify this situation, he said. German added that Safed residents should not have to travel to Haifa or the center of the country to get medical care.
“One of the key principles of my ministry is reducing gaps in the population. We have been negotiating with the Treasury in the past few weeks so that the health system can get what it deserves, with emphasis on the periphery,” German said.
Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat thanked the ministers and said “we had already given up on raising money for an MRI. This is important news for residents of Safed and the Galilee.”