Medical Cannabis

סוכנות ישראלית ממשלתית לקנאביס רפואי

סוכנות ישראלית ממשלתית לקנאביס רפואי

“Cannabis is a substance that is defined as a “dangerous drug”. Medical Cannabis is not a medicine, it is not registered as a medicine, and its efficacy and safety when used for medical purposes has not yet been established. Nevertheless, there is evidence that cannabis could help patients suffering from certain medical conditions, and alleviate their suffering.”

Thus opens the homepage of the Medical Cannabis Unit of the Ministry of Health (MoH)  with as much clarity of purpose as can be mustered for the apparently loaded subject.

Over twenty thousand patients currently have permits for the use of medical cannabis in Israel, and over many years the means of supplying the substance to those in need have slowly progressed to the point where Israeli researchers, growers and distributors have gained international recognition as innovators. The evolution of policies is ongoing, with an expansion of availability seemingly around the corner. Still, the following is a summary of the current state of affairs, and will be updated when the MoH administration plans are fully implemented.

Cannabis is Not in the Healthcare Basket

“The Ministry of Health wishes to remove obstacles to the supply of this drug to patients who could benefit from it medically and who wish to purchase it at their own expense.”

MoH website

This means that the MoH regulates who is allowed to use medical cannabis and who is allowed to supply it, but they are not obliged to provide it through the public healthcare system or cover its cost. Instead, permitted patients subscribe to a specific licensed supplier and pay a monthly fee. Currently this fee is NIS 380 per month, to which additional charges may be added for delivery, equipment, or other accompanying expenses.

One issue that has been recognized by patients and officials is the fact that the monthly fee bears no relationship to the prescribed amount of the drug that the patient receives. This may be changed in future policies, and there is always the possibility that eventually the committee in charge of the health basket will add cannabis to the list of medications that the government primarily finances for patients.

Another innovation that is planned by the MoH is to have the drug available from regular pharmacies instead of specially designated distributors, though this plan has not yet been implemented.

How to Receive a License

The request for a permit is an electronic form available on the MoH website that is filled out on the computer and then printed to be faxed or mailed to the Medical Cannabis Unit by a doctor specializing in the medical field of which the patient is afflicted. One notable exception The Ministry of Health has given oncologists in most of the major hospitals in the country the direct authority to issue medical cannabis licenses.

Currently, requests are not accepted from family doctors and general practitioners, though ministry officials have stated their plan to offer a short training course to any doctor in order to qualify for prescribing the drug. Theoretically, they will even be allowed to issue licenses directly, though this will not be clear until the plan is implemented.

The Recommending Doctor’s Responsibilities

The patient-doctor relationship plays a central role in the MoH’s approach to issuing licenses. The recommending doctor is specifically associated with the license that is issued and if the patient changes doctors the license will have to be updated. If there is any change of status of the patient under treatment, it is the responsibility of the doctor to update the Medical Cannabis Unit’s administration. The doctor must perform medical follow-ups with the patient every three months for the first year of treatment and every six months afterwards.

Recognized Conditions and Indications

The following conditions are currently recognized explicitly by the Ministry of Health as entitled to consideration for a license:

  • Oncology Patients
  • Chronic Pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Terminally ill patients
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In most cases patients are expected to have exhausted other conventional treatment options before they can receive a license. There are also other explicit indications for treatment for each condition.

All specialist doctors may make a recommendation for a medical cannabis license and either petition the indications committee of the Ministry of Health to add a new indication to the list or request individual exceptions for conditions not currently in the list that the doctor feels warrants the use of cannabis for the patient.

Further Resources

Ministry of Health:

Tikun Olam, Israel’s most prominent growing, research, and distribution organization:

Subsidized therapy for those coping with illness and loss

Tishkofet Ma’agan (Life’s Door) offers subsidized therapy for those coping with illness and loss. The basic subsidized rate is 180 NIS per session, but further subsidies are available and each client’s needs and means are assessed individually.

For more information, contact Margo: mhelman@tishkofet.co.il, 02-631-2635.

Tishkofet Therapy Program

“Fast Track” for Submitting a General Disability Pension Claim

Those submitting any type of health-related claim in Israel whether it be to the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), the kupot cholim, or the Ministry of Health, unfortunately often have to wait a long time for the claim to be processed and approved.

Fortunately, at least with regard to General Disability Pension claims, there is some relief available in the form of a “Fast Track” process for those suffering from serious conditions.

As part of our on-going collaboration with Kol-Zchut, we are proud to have translated and published this easy-to-read, critical and unique resource that was not previously available in English. You can either view the information below or click here to follow an external link. 

 

Related information:

 

Not familiar with AACI’s Shira Pransky Project?

AACI’s Shira Pransky Project was founded to help English speakers in Israel better navigate the Israeli healthcare system and make use of the rights and services that are out there.

 

If this information was helpful to you, please enable us to help others by supporting the project:
Donate Now!

 

 

To your health ! לבריאות

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Cancer Patients – Rights, Benefits and Services

Cancer patients must not only fight the disease, but they and their families must also be aware of all of their rights within the healthcare system, in addition to all options for financial and emotional support.

Know to Ask

Review the various rights, benefits and services highlighted in this checklist to become more knowledgeable about what is available before making an appointment with the Kupat Cholim social worker at your local branch, a social worker at the treating hospital, or another guidance professional for information and assistance in accessing support. Download a printable version of this checklist by clicking here. You can print out that checklist and go over it with the support professional. Please note that many items have eligibility conditions related to age, means, insurance membership or other factors.

Discounts, Exemptions and Assistance from the Health Plans

Financial Assistance and Other Benefits

Employment

Fertility Preservation Treatments

Supportive and Nursing Care

Patient Support Organizations

This is not an exclusive list. If you have a need for a service you do not see here, we urge you to make your need known. If it is not already addressed by an existing program, many organizations will use their resources to facilitate your individual needs in any way possible.

Israel Cancer Association 1800-599-995

Transportation/Ambulance, Equipment Loan and Other General Services 

Counseling, Support and Rehabilitation

Children and Families Support, Recreation and Respite

More Organizations

Cancer Patients in Israel: Where to Turn

Here are your primary avenues for receiving helpful information. Remember to be persistent in seeking clear and comprehensive details about assistance and the means to access it. There are multiple sources for guidance and often you need to pursue more than one.

  • Kupat Cholim Social Workers: Every health fund employs a social work staff with hours available to address any of your needs. Speak to your branch secretary about office hours or to arrange an appointment. 
  • Hospital Social Workers: Hospitals have a social work department to assist patients in need of support. Contact information can be found at the hospital information desk or website. Additionally, many hospital departments have their own dedicated social work staff for specialized assistance. Inquire with the ward secretary for details.
  • Organization Social Workers and Other Assistance Professionals: Many patient support organizations offer guidance to the community they serve through social workers or counselors providing specialized information and assistance.

What Assistance Can You Expect?

  • Information about rights and services that relate specifically to a person’s circumstances, and practical guidance on acquiring them.
  • Practical insight, and some hand holding, on navigating the medical system, whether it be within the Kupat Cholim network, in the hospital, or where the two overlap.
  • More practical insight and assistance with other bureaucratic institutions, like Bituach Leumi.
  • Help finding and connecting with organizations dedicated to particular conditions, where there may be even more resources of specific interest to you.
  • Help with emotional coping in difficult situations.

 A Few Tips:

  •  Schedule a sit-down meeting with enough time blocked out to discuss what you need.
  • Delegate tasks to accomplish your goals. Note the things you need to do (e.g. call this office, obtain these documents, etc.) and the things the social worker is committing to doing (e.g. calling that office, finding out about that service, getting those forms, etc.).
  • Schedule the next contact. e.g. The social worker will call you in two days with some follow-up information, or you will meet again in a week to fill out forms together, etc.
  • Show your appreciation. Everyone in the healthcare sector chose to go into a profession dedicated to helping others. The social workers especially, did not do it for the glamour.

 

The information appearing here, along with some more resources, also appears in the Cancer Patients Portal we translated as part of our collaboration with the Kol-Zchut organization.

Remember that a printable, slightly modified PDF version of this checklist may be found here.

 

If this checklist helped you or a loved one, please consider supporting AACI’s Shira Pransky Project by visiting:
www.razoo.com/Shirapranskyproject

Home Care from the Kupat Cholim

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About this Benefit

All of the kupot cholim (health plans) offer home care services to patients who can’t get all of the medical services they need due to difficulty leaving the home. A full range of medical services are provided with home visits from doctors, nurses, and social workers, as well as paramedical providers, like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and others.

Who is Entitled

Home care services are intended for patients who are confined to their homes temporarily or permanently due to their medical/physical condition and are not able to receive services in the kupat cholim branches.  For Example: 

  • Patients with chronic illness
  • Patients returning home after hospitalization
  • Oncology patients
  • The elderly

How to Get it

Individuals may be referred to the Home Care Unit (יחידה לטיפול בית or יחידה להמשך טיפול)  by hospital staff, a family doctor, local social services or by contacting the unit directly. Contact information can be obtained from your local branch secretary or your kupat cholim’s information hotline.

Cancer patients may be entitled to additional home care through the Israel Cancer Association. Click here for more information.

Resources

 

If this information was helpful to you, please enable us to help others by supporting the project:
 www.shirapranskyproject.org/donate/ 

Translated Document for Oncology Patients

Several months ago we met with the directors of Kivunim to determine how we can best help them do their admirable work. We came up with several initiatives, but the first and easiest was to simply translate into English a document that they were already using to inform cancer patients about some essential rights and benefits.

It’s not an original publication of ours, so far be it from me to quibble about formatting, or even content. Here we have a simple way to make a tool that is already in use more accessible to English speaking patients. And that’s what we did. The document has been in their hands for a few months now, and I hope to find out in a meeting at Hadassah tomorrow how useful it has been.

Oncology Patients Information Sheet