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Health Minister Yael German 370.(Photo by: Courtesy Knesset)
Health Min. sets out to strengthen public medicine
Minister Yael German says despite serious deficit she will insist that service to patients improve.
Health Minister Yael German said Sunday during the first session of the National Health Council under her chairmanship that despite the serious deficit status of the public medical system, she will insist that service to the patients be improved, with more respect and compassion.

“We want to put the patient – the customer – in the center.”

German, a former mayor of Herzliya who has spent the last two months intensively learning the inner workings of the health system, said she will set up a committee on strengthening public medicine.

She originally thought of appointing a senior economist to head it, but in the end she decided to chair it herself, she said, “because I am responsible for implementation.”

Among her urgent aims, besides adding financial resources to the health system, are to reduce the gaps in healthcare between the haves and have-nots, which are very significant today, and to promote transparency.

To increase public information on health funds, the basket of health services, supplementary health insurance and other matters, the ministry will prepare a comparative website so that residents will be aware of their rights and what their insurer offers them.

Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu told the council, many of whose members are new, that the indices of medical expenditures and others have been redesigned by the ministry after consultation with experts to make compensation to the hospitals and health funds more fair and systematic.

However, a number of health fund representatives complained that the budget proposals, the Arrangements Bill and the extra one percent value-added tax (VAT) will take back much of what the providers would gain by the changes of indices.

All agreed that the health system is on a starvation diet, with the population growing and aging, and that shortages will continue to exist.

After Gamzu said that the four health funds will have NIS 800 million more at their disposal in 2016, the representatives of the health funds and others noted that much of the additional resources for health will be eroded by higher payments that the health funds – already deep in debt – will owe, including higher VAT.

Prof. Gabi Bin-Nun, a health economist at Ben- Gurion University, opened the members’ eyes by pointing out that the planned tax on non-employed housewives will go directly to the Treasury and not expand the funds for the health system, even though the excuse for the tax was that they have not paid health taxes because they are not working. Bin- Nun called the extra payment “a regressive head tax” and demanded that the idea be scrapped.

Gamzu said it was agreed, after a major fight with the Treasury, that the basket of health services will be expanded by NIS 300 million annually over the next three years, although it will not be increased beyond that.
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