Court asked to dismantle health basket committee

NGO claims government misused its authority in establishing the committee which, it says, is redundant.

The High Court of Justice will on Wednesday hear a petition by the Dolev Foundation for Medical Justice to cancel the government decision, which over a decade ago established a public advisory committee to recommend which medical services should be added yearly to the range of health services available to the public. The non-profit organization claims that the government misused its authority in establishing the committee - which on Monday held its second session this year to recommend new services, including drugs and technologies, for the 2009 basket. The only authority that should be able to recommend new medical technologies, a foundation spokesperson said, is the National Health Council established by the 1994 National Health Insurance Law. This body is comprised of representatives of the Health and Finance ministries, the Israel Medical Association (IMA), patient groups and the country's four health funds - as well as social workers, nurses and other public servants. The public advisory committee is appointed by the health and finance ministers and is composed mostly of government bureaucrats, three of them from the Treasury. Patient groups and the IMA are not represented. "If our appeal is accepted," the spokesperson said, the public advisory committee will end its existence and the National Health Council - whose functioning has been paralyzed by the government - will resume its function as set down by the Knesset in the National Health Insurance Law." Meanwhile, advisory committee spokesman Avishai Zohar said it welcomes suggestions from the public, as it did last year. Requests for the adding of a specific drug to the list subsidized by the government can be sent to [email protected] or to the Health Ministry's Committee to Expand the Health Basket at the ministry's headquarters, 2 Rehov Ben-Tabbai, Jerusalem.