Board of Ailing Meuhedet HMO to Dismiss New CEO

Prof. Asher Elhayani is abruptly dismissed after evidently appointing top HMO administrators without the board's consent, among other reasons.

The board of directors of Meuhedet health maintenance organization abruptly announced Tuesday night its intention to dismiss the CEO Prof. Asher Elhayani less than two years into his appointment. Elhayani had been appointed to put the HMO’s house in order after a stinging report by the state comptroller in November 2010 listed a number of serious longstanding defects in Meuhedet’s operations, and even recommended initiating criminal investigations against senior HMO officials for six scandals.

Members of the board, which is headed by Rabbi Yerachmiel Boyer and includes Elhayani, hurled accusations against Elhayani during its meeting on Tuesday until at one point he was asked to leave the room. More charges, including some of a personal nature, were made in his absence, after which he was called back in and told a hearing would take place next Tuesday with the intention of ending his tenure. Health Ministry director general Prof. Roni Gamzu, on being informed of the decision, asked for more information to examine the legality of the move.

One of the charges against Elhayani involved the apparent appointment of senior HMO administrators without the board’s consent. Elhayani had asked for, and received, authority to fill senior management posts at his own discretion, but this was only in effect until June 2012 and it was claimed that he continued to make appointments without the board’s approval even after the privilege had ended.

Elhayani was also said to have conducted negotiations with the Finance Ministry for funding needed to plug Meuhedet’s deficit, but without the board’s knowledge. In December Meuhedet was reported to have ended the 2011 fiscal year with the largest deficit of any HMO, a whopping NIS 277 million, equivalent to 7% of its revenues for the year.

The personal claims made against Elhayani included the summoning of a dentist and assistant last month outside normal working hours to attend to a relative of his, exchanging his company car three times, and appointing several people from his hometown Lehavim to fill key positions.

“We’ve been burned by the comptroller’s report for scandals like these and we wanted to save the HMO from suffering an additional scandal due to irresponsible behavior,” said one board member.

The decision to summon Elhayani to the hearing was signed by eight of the 10 directors.

Elhayani presented a different version of events, hinting that elements in the HMO adversely affected by changes he’s attempting to institute are trying to railroad him. Through the Gideon Fisher & Co. law office representing him, Elhayani stated: “The directors’ meeting that took place puts the mark of Cain on the same board that failed and carries on its shoulders the destruction and failure pointed out by the state comptroller. The board’s decision, whose wording itself isn’t legal, reflects its unreasonable and illegal conduct in recent years was also brought up in the comptroller’s report.” The office of State Comptroller Joseph Shapira yesterday said it received several anonymous complaints about Elhayani’s conduct, the vast majority of which had already been investigated and found to be baseless.

Tamar Matsafi