Ministry poised to take action on Meuhedet after dismissal

Move expected after kupat holim's announcement that it was firing four senior officials; Meuhedet expected to take more responsibility for failures.

Meuhedet 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Meuhedet 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Health Ministry will take “a few more days” to react to the announcement by Kupat Holim Meuhedet management over the weekend that it was dismissing four senior officials.
However, a senior Health Ministry official said that it was “not satisfied” by the health fund’s replies so far and expect Meuhedet managers to take more personal responsibility for their failures.
The State Comptroller’s Office issued a scathing, 300-page report against Meuhedet managers a month ago containing allegations of fraud and other criminal violations, and several senior staffers were arrested by the Israel Police. The four who have been dismissed “starred” in the report, but many others accused of wrongdoing remain in place.
The ministry said on Sunday that it is studying the protocol and the announcement made by Meuhedet – the third-largest health fund – in accordance with the schedule set down by ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu. Then it will announce its decisions, the ministry continued.
Meuhedet board chairman Rabbi Yerahmiel Boyer sent an urgent letter to Gamzu on Friday, saying that the health fund had decided to cut all ties to its chief pharmacist, George Shriki, who was cited by the state comptroller as having run his own private pharmacy with Meuhedet pharmacists, prevented the opening of a health fund pharmacy nearby so as not to compete with his business and amassing from pharmaceutical companies a collection of expensive drugs not included in the basket of health services that he handed out to friends and acquaintances.
In addition, Boyer said that Jerusalem district manager Yehuda Eliash had been fired, along with Zvi Hertz, head of the southern district, and David Somech, the internal comptroller, though these three were entitled to a hearing first. This would be carried out without interfering with the police and state attorney’s investigation, Boyer said.
The health fund board decided, however, not to dismiss Meuhedet director-general Shmuel Muallem, who was singled out with serious criticism and allegations of wrongdoing by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, because “at this difficult hour” he is needed “to ensure the proper management of the health fund, repair the shortcomings and prevent additional shocks to the system while ensuring continued service to health fund members.”
Members of the board, who are running for re-election soon, will “discuss the extension of Mr. Muallem’s term,” Boyer said.
The health fund chairman said that a number of the “shortcomings” presented in the State Comptroller’s Report “have already been corrected and the board thus does not need to make decisions related to them.”
The rabbi said he intends to present to the board a proposal for changing its structure in accordance with the Arrangements Law that would turn the health fund into a corporate entity, rather than an organization that supervises itself.
The board’s only desire, he concluded, was to “act with an open heart and a willing spirit... to protect the health fund’s stability and resilience.”
Boyer attached to his letter a protocol of 16 decisions made by the board since the scandalous affair became public with the Lindenstrauss’s special report.