Officials Near Pact on Rise in Israeli Health Budget

Deal would boost budget for subsidized drugs and services by 1.5 billion shekels over three years.

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Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.Credit: Emil Salman

The finance and health ministries are close to an accord to boost the budget for subsidized health services by 500 million shekels ($129 million) annually over the next three years, two-thirds more than the annual raise in recent years, TheMarker has learned.

The 1.5 billion shekel addition would increase the budget for the so-called health basket to 45 billion shekels.

Health Minister Yaacov Litzman has been urging bigger increases to the budget, saying that without them certain costly cancer treatments will have to be removed from the basket and covered by supplementary insurance policies. The treasury opposed that idea and has said it is ready to increase funding for essential drugs to ensure everyone has access to them.

A recent study by Prof. Nathan Cherny of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center found that Israel’s health basket was among the most generous among European countries, for the range of medicines covered and the availability to patients.

But in recent years the basket has come under pressure from budget increases – about 300 million shekels annually – that are too small to keep up with rising prices and growing demand from an aging population.

In 2016 the added costs of candidate drugs to add to the basket amounted to 2.5 billion shekels. The committee authorizing new drugs for the basket dropped some treatments to cut the budget to 727 million shekels, but the figure remained nearly 430 million shekels more than the slated budget increase.

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