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Israel: Medevac Service May be Terminated

mda chopper1.jpgThe southern district station of the firm hired to provide Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service provider, with medivac helicopter transport service has closed its doors due to a staggering debt. The northern station, the only other in the country, is about to follow suit company officials warn.

Apparently, the Lahak Company owes too much money to MDA for using its paramedics and drugs, and according to officials, the northern station, located near Poriah Hospital in Tiveria, will soon to be closed for the same reason.

Sharon Shila, the company’s general manager explains that HMOs and insurance companies refuse to pay for the chopper service, leaving Lahak with a hole in its pocket, unable to pay MDA. “There is a limit to philanthropy” stated Shila, who stated if the HMOs and insurance companies paid for the services received, the company would be able to continue.

Transportation Ministry officials confirmed that insurance companies take the bills from Lahak and throw them in the trash. Even worse, the Finance Ministry’s expert responsible for insurance firms explains that the funds taken from car owners for compulsory insurance already includes any expense that may be incurred as a result of a medivac transport.

Shila adds that it is amazing “that millions of drivers are paying for a medivac service that most never need and those who do, do not receive the money. It appears we are the only ones willing to invest in saving lives.”

MDA officials promise meetings are taking place in the coming days in the hope of renewing service and preventing the closure of the northern Lahak station as well.

Shila explains the company can no longer run on its own funds, resulting in a growing deficit, adding in the coming days, legal action will be taken towards collecting the money due.

National Road Safety Agency officials have entered the picture in the hope of actualizing a solution, well-aware of the life-saving realities associated with the chopper flights, capable of stabilizing and transporting critically injured/ill patients/victims in a fraction of the time of an ambulance, which is particularly necessary in some of the most rural northern and southern areas of the country.

Finance Ministry officials opted not to respond, explaining the matter is in the courts and therefore, a response from a government agency would be inappropriate.

The Clalit HMO responded by stating the National Health Law states specifically that the HMO is required to pay a percentage of the cost of ambulance transportation providing it is done by an MDA ambulance, adding the law does not address more expensive forms of transport such as a helicopter.

The Maccabi HMO more or less quoted the same law, adding that at present, the HMO does not owe Lahak anything, adding no agreement between Maccabi and Lahak has ever been signed. Maccabi officials indicated a willingness to make such payments if and when the medivac service is introduced in the government’s basic healthcare basket, which sets the level of care required under the law.

The Leumit HMO concurred, explaining the medivac service is not covered in the current government healthcare basket.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

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