January 1, 2016

Gov’t blocks access of 21 private hospitals to social security

The Social Security Institution (SGK) has unilaterally canceled its contracts with 21 privately run hospitals without citing a reason in what is suspected of being a politically motivated decision, media outlets reported on Friday.

Şifa Hospital in İzmir is one of the 21 hospitals whose contracts
with the SGK have been canceled. (Photo: Cihan)

The SGK announced on Dec. 24 that all private hospitals were required to renew their contracts with the institution so that they can continue to offer services for patients covered by SGK health insurance. The 21 hospitals in question applied to renew their contracts; however, the SGK denied them access to the bill tracking system called Medula starting on Jan. 1, preventing doctors and pharmacists from entering prescriptions into the system. Hundreds of patients were unable to receive treatment as a result, locals reported on Friday.

The 21 hospitals are run by people close to the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, whose philosophy is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Among them is Şifa Hospital in İzmir, which was raided by police in December for failing to close its supplementary outpatient polyclinics that are not being used for student training as ordered by the Higher Education Board (YÖK).

The SGK's decision and the earlier police operation are the latest in an ongoing, government-led witch hunt against business groups affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Hospital and SGK officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday, an official holiday marking the new year.

Published on Today's Zaman, 1 January 2016, Friday