At least two medical centers in Israel are locked in a power struggle with the Health Ministry over funding support for MRI procedures.
The number of MRI exams carried out in the afternoon and evening hours was seriously reduced beginning December 1 by the Clalit HMO at Beilinson Medical Center in Petach Tikvah and Be’er Sheva’s Sorokah Medical Center, Galei Tzahal Army Radio reported Tuesday.
This, despite a reform announced by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman that was supposed to sharply cut the long wait for such procedures.
Because the MRI machine-hours have been slashed in the afternoon and evening hours at the two hospitals, many clinics have been unable to schedule patients for MRI exams as well.
Officials blamed a lack of state funding was responsible for the cut in services.
“Unfortunately we ran out of funds to operate the second shift, so we were forced to reduce our services by 30 percent,” said a spokesperson for Beilinson Medical Center.
“Operating the MRI in afternoon and evening hours is only possible with funding from the state,” said Soroka Medical Center. “The budget just could not stretch far enough, and therefore our services were reduced.”
The Ministry of Health has responded that the “availability and quality of services in the health basket are dependent upon the financial situation of the specific health fund; the ministry will review the matter with the director-general.”
However, Litzman added bluntly that if the hospitals did not cooperate and shorten the wait for MRI exams, he would “not hesitate to cancel their arrangements of choice.”
Such arrangements refer to agreements between the HMOs and hospitals to determine which medical center receives patients for which particular treatment.
Such a decision can exert major influence on an institution’s economic development.
Bottom line: if the hospitals don’t step up and cooperate, the health ministry is not likely to provide them with the support they need for further growth — at least, as long as Ya’acov Litzman remains health minister.
Hana Levi Julian