First-ever non-MD approved by cabinet as Health Ministry Director-General

Israel Medical Association says it will "continue to fight" it.

Moshe Bar Siman Tov. (photo credit: FINANCE MINISTRY)
Moshe Bar Siman Tov.
(photo credit: FINANCE MINISTRY)
The cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of the first-ever non-physician to the post of Health Ministry director-general – Moshe Bar Siman Tov, previously chief of health budgets and deputy budgets director in the Finance Ministry.
The appointment, proposed by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, has aroused strong opposition from the Israel Medical Association, which maintains that an MD’s knowledge and expertise is a basic requirement for such a powerful and influential job.
Bar Siman Tov, 39 years old, on July 1 is to replace Prof.
Arnon Afek, who is to return to his previous job as head of the Health Ministry’s medical administration in charge of hospitals and other facilities.
He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Bar Siman Tov headed the Treasury’s economic mission in the US and was Israel’s economic attaché at its embassy in Washington. He was previously involved in negotiations between the Finance and Health ministries and the Hadassah Medical Organization over its debt-ridden Jerusalem medical centers.
He joined the Treasury’s budget division 12 years ago in the field of social services and labor, and he was named a deputy director of the Treasury in 2009. He was a member of the public committee for recommending the national health services basket and a board member of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem.
He started working in the budgets division in 2003 in the area of employment and social services, including responsibility for overseeing the budgets of the National Insurance Institute and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry. He later coordinated the budgets of the health system and was appointed one of the ministry’s six deputy directors in 2009.
Litzman praised the new director-general, whom he refers to as “Barsi,” for his “professional values, management abilities, experience, integrity and deep familiarity with the health system. I am sure that his appointment will contribute greatly for the benefit of the Health Ministry, the public and patients, as well as all Israeli residents.”
Yair Pines is replacing Bar Siman Tov in his Treasury job.
But IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said that Bar Siman Tov’s appointment was “a political one that had no precedent in the history of Israeli medicine. This appointment essentially changes the nature of the ministry, which will cease being a professional ministry – as professional advice given to the new director-general will not exempt him for responsibility.”
Eidelman added that the IMA “brought our opposition to the appointment to the Civil Service Commission appointments committee.
Prof. Mina Teicher [an expert at Bar-Ilan University’s mathematics department and brain research center] supported our view in a minority position, and we also voiced our opposition to the cabinet that, nevertheless” ignored it.
The IMA is “considering the next steps in our struggle” against the appointment that “has not ended,” he said.