The Ukrainian Ambassador slammed Israel on Thursday for terminating health insurance coverage for approximately 14,000 Ukrainian refugees in Israel. "Not only did the Israeli government refuse to sell Ukraine protective measures... Israel also stopped medical aid to refugees who fled to Israel from a threat of brutal killing at the hands of the Russians," Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk said in a statement on Thursday.
As reported on Wednesday, Israel the Finance Ministry's failure to renew medical insurance plunged these refugees into uncertainty, forcing hospitals to provide treatment without funding. The dire situation drew criticism from all quarters, with Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Korniychuk stating, "we are deeply disappointed and troubled by the recent decision made by the Israeli government to terminate health insurance benefits for Ukrainian refugees."
In his statement, the Ukrainian ambassador appealed to the Israeli government to “uphold its commitment to fundamental humanitarian values by safeguarding the well-being of Ukrainian refugees.” He urged Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Yaakov Margi to “reconsider their decision and demonstrate an act of compassion by ensuring Ukrainian refugees have access to essential social protection and health insurance.”
The report by Ynet exposed the plight of Ukrainian refugees who had arrived in Israel since the commencement of the conflict. Without renewed medical insurance, their access to essential health services hung in the balance. Hospitals, left to navigate the crisis, grappled with the ethical dilemma of providing care without the necessary resources.
Why was medical funding not renewed?
The Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry acknowledged on Wednesday that the medical insurance funding was not renewed and has also appealed to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to take action: "Regrettably, the government did not extend the medical insurance budget. We urge both the Finance Ministry and the PMO to address this matter urgently," they said in a statement.
"For the past 18 months, the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry has been upholding the Israeli government's decision to grant humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian war refugees residing in Israel, as is appropriate during times of conflict. To facilitate this aid, the ministry has been allocated a budget of NIS 100 million, which has aided roughly 83,000 Ukrainian nationals.
"Eighty percent of this budget is designated for health insurance and medical services. It's worth noting that, at present, the ministry will persist in offering welfare and emergency housing services to Ukrainian war refugees in Israel," the ministry said in a statement.
Yair Smolyanov, the director of immigrant absorption at the One Million Lobby, commented in a statement to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday on the Treasury's decision. He said that "It's an unprecedented situation. Israel, having previously prioritized aiding Ukrainian war refugees, now seems to be regressing." The One Million Lobby promotes better integration and acknowledgment of Russian-speaking olim.
Smolyanov added: "Instead of directly telling the refugees to leave, it’s piling on challenges, hinting they're no longer welcome. Medical care without insurance is exorbitantly expensive, and it's unrealistic to expect refugees to afford such costs. Moreover, this decision was abrupt and without prior notice. From tomorrow, these individuals will feel abandoned once again, given the dire circumstances they face as victims of an ongoing war in Ukraine.It appears that the finance minister is pushing these people away from Israel, even as their homeland remains under attack. We strongly urge the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office to seek necessary solutions and reconsider this harsh decision."