Health Minister Rabbi Litzman: ‘Revolutionary’ New Plan Will Help Infirm Elderly

YERUSHALAYIM -
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (C left) and Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (C right), Deputy Finance Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen (R), and Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn (L), announce a reform in the budget  during a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Yerushalayim, Monday. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn have introduced a new plan to care for elderly, infirm Israelis. The plan, which will cost between NIS 1.5 and NIS 2 billion, will be a part of the 2018/19 state budget.

Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said Monday that the new plan was “important news for the elderly in Israel. This is a historic opportunity to do right by the elderly and infirm. I congratulate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for supporting this plan, and I have a great hakaras hatov for Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for his willingness to provide assistance for those in need. This is truly a revolutionary change in Israeli society that we have been developing for years.”

Israel’s national health care covers medical treatment and needs from cradle to grave, but it does not cover expenses that occur outside hospitals or doctors’ offices — such as the need for home health aides or home nursing care. To pay for that, some 60 percent of Israelis have expensive private insurance, and among the many who don’t, families are forced to give up large amounts of time and money to provide or pay out of pocket for assistance.

National Insurance provides very limited coverage for some extreme cases — for example, it partially covers payments for health aides for Israelis 85 and older — but families still have to put up a great deal of money to pay for the full-time help they need.

The new plan aims to close many of the holes in the current care system, among them: increasing the number of aide work hours National Insurance currently pays for by up to 40 percent; an increase in elderly stipends, which will max out at NIS 5,000 a month; providing free basic dental care for Israelis 65 and older, with advanced treatments available for free for those over 75; providing more at-home services, including doctors and medical tests, for home-bound elderly who find it difficult to get to medical clinics; cutting down on paperwork, with all requests for assistance made with one basic form; assigning a case manager to each person eligible for assistance; and increasing salaries and payments for Israeli care workers.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that the plan “rights a historic wrong. The message of this plan is clear: The state will dig deep to take responsibility for all its citizens. We have a very strong economy. We have one objective — to ensure that no citizen be left behind.”