Bulgaria's health care head faces dismissal

Bulgaria's health care head faces dismissal

On April 19 2010, just two months after her appointment as head of Bulgaria's National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), Zheni Nacheva was accused by prosecutors of misuse of power.Based on the investigation against her, prosecutors said they will seek Nacheva's dismissal. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has already said he expects her resignation (according to the law, Parliament appoints NHIF head, not the Cabinet).Nacheva has been accused of illicitly raising 800 000 leva in government payments to the Hadji Dimitar private hospital in Sliven in 2009.Additionally, in March 2010, she was accused of ordering that private hospital Tokuda in Sofia and the state-owned Military Medical Academy (MMA) receive 320 000 leva and 511 000 leva, respectively, above the treatment cap.The accusations against her came only two weeks after health minister Bozhidar Nanev resigned. Nanev had been charged with signing two contracts for the purchase of anti-viral flu vaccine Tamiflu, which had adversely affected the Ministry's budget. According to prosecutors, Nanev picked the more expensive of the two bids to purchase the vaccine.On April 19 2010, Sofia City prosecutors also brought charges against former deputy health minister and NHIF board chairman Emil Rainov of the former ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).  Further charges were pressed against Veladin Bitolski, former chief of staff at the cabinet of former prime minister and current BSP leader Sergey Stanishev.The charges against Raynov and Bitolski were pressed following a tip-off from private drug distributor Commercial League, which claims that in 2005 and 2007 the two asked for bribes totalling 28 million leva, or seven per cent of the company's turnover from public procurement orders.The prosecution began a probe into the 2005 bribery allegations following a paid story by Commercial League director Toni Vekov in the International Herald Tribune.The three defendants were freed on bail of 2000 leva each. Nacheva refused to comment on the charges while Raynov dismissed them as nonsense. The BSP said it will come out with a statement on April 20 2010."Tokuda Hospital Sofia has never received 'property benefits' from the NHIF, only payments for work that have been executed, accounted for and inspected by the NHIF," the company said in a statement.Nacheva's dismissal is allegedly linked to attempts by the NHIF to curtail allocations for drug reimbursement and shed the costliest clinical paths, including cardio. Commercial League owns the hospitals where the largest number of cardiovascular operations take place and makes some of the most expensive generic drugs reimbursed by the NHIF.

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