Health Ministry D-G commits to NIS 500m. 'health basket' addition

Despite ongoing financial instability, director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said it was imperative that medical treatments are funded.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov (photo credit: MINISTRY OF HEALTH)
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov
(photo credit: MINISTRY OF HEALTH)
Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov promised late on Tuesday the budget for next year’s state-subsidized “health basket” will be expanded by NIS 500m.
Writing on Facebook, Bar Siman Tov said it was important to comment on additions to the health basket “in my voice, clearly, and not via ‘sources’.”
Due to the the current political stalemate, formal discussions regarding the contents of the state-subsidized health basket for 2020 have been ongoing since the end of October without a defined budget.
Annual additions to the basket– encompassing the entire range of medical services, drugs, equipment and devices that insured, permanent residents of Israel have a right to receive– are limited by a budget allocated by the Finance Ministry.
While new additions are scheduled to be announced in early January 2020, a budget has still not been agreed between the finance and health ministries.
“The budget available to the Health Basket Committee this year will be half a billion shekels, similar to last year’s budget,” wrote Bar Siman Tov.
“I have great respect for the Finance Ministry, and understand that we are in an unstable political and budgetary period, and I trust the professionals who will be able to navigate the turbulent period in which we find ourselves.
“But under the watch of myself and the Deputy Minister, we will not reach a situation in which essential medicine is left outside of the public basket. We have already been in elections, financial crises and continuous budgets, and we have maintained this important principle – and will do so this time too.”
In January 2019, the Health Basket Committee announced the addition of 107 medical technologies worth NIS 460 million to the state-subsidized health basket. The total value of the 2019 health basket stood at approximately NIS 53.7b.
Among the technologies selected to enter the basket were multiple treatments for those suffering from solid tumors and hematologic cancers, including a breakthrough treatment involving CAR-T genetic engineering for lymphoma patients and children with leukemia.
Patients of the country’s four health funds are eligible to receive additional treatments in the health basket without charge, once approved by the cabinet.
“From all the discussions and talks that have been held, everybody agrees that there cannot be less than NIS 500m. for the basket,” wrote Bar Siman Tov. “There needs to be even more (but we understand the special circumstances...). We still have discussions regarding the origins [of the budget], but this is the amount that will be available to the committee.”
Prior to the dispersal of the Knesset on Wednesday night, Labor-Gesher MK Itzik Shmuli scheduled an “emergency meeting” with patient-focused organizations to discuss the need to fix a budget for the health basket.
“The Treasury should internalize that we will not give up, and it cannot be under our watch that people die because someone is trying to save money for drugs at their expense,” said Shmuli. “The political paralysis is not a reason to reach such a low.”