Following severe criticism of proposed geriatric nursing reform in which too few benefits were given and relatives could take money instead of nursing care for the sick elderly, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman agreed on significant changes Wednesday.
Instead, the benefits will begin already in November 2018 instead of next year; the least disabled would get nine hours of nursing care at home instead of just five; and for the first time, the patient (or his guardian) would be able to decide whether he wants actual care or money to hire help himself.
The aid could be used not only for nursing care but also for emergency beepers, remote supervision, diapers, laundry services, supportive community services and more.
In the current situation, there are only three levels of nursing, and the number of hours given to an elderly patient by the National Insurance Institute ranges from 9.75 to 18 hours weekly for a foreign caregiver to 22 hours weekly for an Israeli caregiver. Starting this fall, a new rating will begin with a minimum of nine nursing hours or a monthly stipend of NIS 1,205, to a maximum of 28 hours per month for an Israeli caregiver or 24 hours a week for a foreign caregiver.
In all other new levels – levels two to six – the default will be given as nursing care. In contrast to the original proposal, the new agreement will make it possible for the most disabled to get benefits without providing a slew of paperwork and they can choose between money (NIS 5,200 monthly) and nursing care.
In 2021, when the reform is fully in effect, the highest level of care will reach 30 hours a week with an Israeli caregiver and 26 hours weekly with a foreigner.
“We have significantly increased the hours of nursing in a way that will meet the needs of the elderly,” Kahlon said. “We promised we will not leave an elderly person without coverage, which is exactly what we are doing today.”
Katz added: “In fruitful cooperation among the ministers, we succeeded in bringing about significant changes in the law in favor of recipients of nursing services. We have come to help those in need and are dramatically increasing assistance in hours or financial aid.”
Litzman concluded that “expanding nursing services includes an important social message for the elderly population. I have struggled for years for state reform in nursing, and now we are implementing it for the benefit of the citizens of Israel.”