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In this commentary to the paper “Ensuring HIV care to undocumented migrants in Israel: a public-private partnership case study” by Chemtob et al. we discuss the role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a mechanism for integrating previously excluded groups in public healthcare provision. Drawing on PPP case-studies as well as on Israel’s pandemic preparedness policies during the Covid-19 outbreak, we examine potential implications for the populations in question and for health systems.<br>

In our view, Chemtob et al. describe an exceptional achievement, where a PPP served as a stepping stone for the subsequent integration of irregular migrants’ in publicly funded HIV care. However, we argue that in many other cases PPPs are liable to undermine public healthcare and inclusionary claims. This view is informed by the fundamentally different concepts of healthcare that underlie PPPs and public healthcare provision (namely, health care as a commodity vs. access to healthcare as a right) and existing evidence on PPPs’ role in facilitating welfare retrenchment. In contexts that are dominated by an exclusionary stance toward irregular migrants, such as contemporary Israel, we believe that PPPs will become stopgaps that undermine health rights, rather than a first foot in the door that leads toward equitable provision of healthcare for all.