Netanyahu: Additions to health basket were 'courageous and correct'

Concluding four months of deliberations, the Health Basket Committee recommended the addition of 141 new treatments and technologies worth NIS 500 million ($145m.).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting, December 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting, December 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Additions to the state-subsidized health basket announced on Friday were “courageous and correct,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday.
Concluding four months of deliberations, the Health Basket Committee recommended the addition of 141 new treatments and technologies worth NIS 500 million, including a range of treatments for cancer patients, a nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression and an HIV prevention treatment.
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. The entire basket is now valued at approximately NIS 12 billion.
“[The health basket] is recognized as one of the most advanced in the world – both in its scope and in technology,” said Netanyahu, adding that the cabinet would approve the committee’s recommendations.
“Members of the committee made unbearable decisions. It is very difficult to debate capital cases. What goes in the [basket] and what stays outside – there are no harder decisions. I think they made courageous and correct decisions, and I want to thank them for their important work.”
While approximately 900 treatments and technologies valued at over NIS 3.5 b. were submitted for consideration by the committee, only 141 items made the final list of recommendations brought before the cabinet for approval. Due to the ongoing political stalemate, the committee’s budget was only decided in mid-December.
Among the additions are advanced treatments for diabetics, including flash glucose monitoring for children with type 1 diabetes, vaccinations to prevent measles among adults, additional vaccine strains to prevent cervical cancer, breakthrough gene therapy to prevent blindness, and universal neonatal screening for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Additional treatments include the wearable Optune cap to treat brain tumors, drugs for PrEP to protect adults at risk of HIV infection, a breakthrough nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression, and medicines for rare diseases, including hereditary angioedema, muscular dystrophy and Cushing’s syndrome.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman responded to criticism leveled at him by Blue and White number two Yair Lapid. The former finance minister said on Friday that additions to the health basket in a “well-managed country” should be “at least NIS 1b.”
“If you can buy a plane for the prime minister for this amount, then you can also buy medication,” Lapid said.
Litzman, in response, said additions to the health basket during Lapid’s term as finance minister were only NIS 300 m. Instead of “preaching morality to others,” Litzman said, “[Lapid] should preach morality to himself.”


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