ASHER ELHAYANY 311.
(photo credit: Meir Medical Center)
Dr. Asher Elhayany, director-general of Clalit Health Services’ Meir Medical
Center in Kfar Saba, has been chosen as director-general of Kupat Holim
Meuhedet, the third-largest health fund and a Clalit competitor.
search committee headed by retired judge Tom Ophir said that the vote was
carried out unanimously late on Tuesday night from among three solid candidates
among an initial list of 48.
Elhayany replaces Shmuel Muallem, who was in
the Mehedet post for three years but was forced to resign by order of the Health
Ministry. The ministry took action in January on the basis of last year’s severe
report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Meuhedet, whose senior
officials and board members has also been investigated by police for alleged
nepotism, misuse of funds and corruption.
“Ahead of him lie serious
challenges, especially in the field of changing the culture of management, and
introducing effective supervision factors within the system,” Dr.
Lipschitz, the ministry’s deputy director- general in charge of supervising the
four public health funds, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
that Meuhedet, which despite the charges is a very popular health fund, “has
excellent potential with a significant proportion of young members without
financial problems, and with proper management can be among the leaders among
the health insurers.”
Meuhedet has a significant presence in Jerusalem
and popularity among the modern-Orthodox and haredi publics; it began in 1931 in
the capital when it was founded as Amamit by doctors at Hadassah University
Medical Center. It changed its name and composition to Meuhedet in 1974. Unlike
two of the four health funds, Meuhedet is not politicized. Politics were
abandoned by Clalit and Kupat Holim Leumit in 1995 when the National Health
Insurance Law went into effect.
Among the allegations against Muallem and
other managers was not only waste of funds, high salaries, unnecessary trips
abroad with their families and the chief pharmacist running his private
Jerusalem pharmacy with Meuhedet staffers, but also giving illegal benefits to
some yeshiva students.
Meuhedet regards haredi families (and to a much
lesser extent, Arab families) as very profitable for it. While they have many
children, the National Insurance Institute, not the funds, covers all hospital
delivery costs, and these families are younger and healthier on average than
Haredim are also less aware of the expensive medical
services available in the health basket and don’t generally demand
Haredim constitute 40 percent of Meuhedet members in Jerusalem, and
they bring money, in the form of health tax, to the health
Lipschitz said Elhayany would have to “rehabilitate the trust of
the ministry and their insured in the health fund, and focus on the proper
corporate status of Meuhedet,” instead of the one-man rule that was in effect
under Muallem, who worked in lower positions in the health fund for decades. The
ministry deputy director- general wishes Elhayany much success.
announcement of the appointment was made by Rabbi Yerachmiel Boyer, a haredi who
was for years board chairman of Meuhedet, and was criticized by the comptroller
for naivete and lack of initiative and supervision of officials’
Elhayany received his medical degree from Ben-Gurion University’s
Health Sciences Faculty in 1980. He also studied public and medical
administration at Harvard University and worked as a family physician in Clalit
Health Services. He was a deputy director of Soroka University Medical Center in
Beersheba and a member of the board of the National Center for Health Policy
Born in 1952, Elhayany is married with four children. He has
been head of Meir since 1997.
Elhayany said after being chosen that
Meuhedet has “thousands of devoted doctors and other professional workers who
put Meuhedet as “No. 1 in satisfaction” among members. “The challenge now is to
preserve the advantages, correct what needs fixing and return to lead in the
quality of medical care and the level of service to members.”
two finalists were Dr. Yair Birnbaum, deputy director-general of the Hadassah
Medical Organization, and an administrator at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in
Tzrifin. Haredi websites speculated that Birnbaum was not chosen because he, who
is modern Orthodox, caught an extreme hassidic woman starving her small son when
he suspected she has Munchausen-byproxy syndrome. Haredim threatened to boycott
Hadassah, but the suspicions were proven accurate by a court. The mother even
today is not allowed contact with her many children without supervision, and is
under treatment at Hadassah.
Birnbaum, who is regarded as a very
effective administrator, does not have any plans now to leave Hadassah; his
director-general, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, will be replaced around the end of
this year by Prof. Ehud Kokia, the director-general of Maccabi Health Services
(the second-largest health fund).