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High Court Overturns Free Dental Care Plan

The High Court has overturned a plan for free dental care to young children by reallocating funds, saying the Knesset should have been consulted.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/20/2010, 10:41 PM / Last Update: 5/21/2010, 1:00 PM

Flash 90

The High Court ruled Thursday to overturn a plan to provide free dental care for children up to the age of eight. The plan should not have been approved without the Knesset's authorization, said Justices Naor, Amit and Meltzer.

The National Health Insurance Law required the Health Ministry to consult the relevant Knesset committees before enacting the plan, the court stated, to review how the allocation of funds to dental care affects other services.

The case was taken to court by the Dolev Fund, the Movement for Quality Government, and the Israel Medical Association (IMA). The plaintiffs protested the transfer of 67 million shekels from the "basket" of medications provided in the standard health "basket" to help cover the cost of the free care, which is expected to cost 150 million shekels per year.

Plaintiffs stressed that they are not opposed to free dental care, but do not want dental care to be provided at the expense of medicines and technologies that could save lives.

"This is a victory for democracy,” said Dr. Leonid Eidelman, president of the IMA. “The judges took the unequivocal stance that our healthcare system is not a free-for-all, and that the government cannot rob the medication basket or use underhanded maneuvers,” he added.

Officials in the Health Ministry said they believe it is very important to implement the free dental plan according to the timetable that had been set, according to which dental care was to be free for children up to age eight beginning in July. The ministry will study the High Court's decision in the upcoming days and determine how best to continue, they said.