Comments on release of funds 'disturbing'
State Rep. Marilyn Lee District 38
It is important that we work to together in dealing with the local and national challenge to provide medical care to all communities.
That is why the comments of Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller in the Monday Honolulu Advertiser regarding not releasing state funds for needed medical services are disturbing.
Over the last two legislative sessions, we have heard from doctors and medical associations that the big issue for doctors and hospitals was the reimbursement rate for Medicaid patients. The low reimbursements are particularly harmful to the quality of healthcare in rural and underserved areas throughout the state.
We've taken a variety of actions at the state level to deal with the issue. This included an appropriation of $8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, to reduce the huge gap between the cost of providing care and state and federal reimbursements.
Throughout this process, the state administration has been quick to criticize the Legislature for not doing enough. Now Director Koller, who has been holding back the $8 million in funds, is stating that the money "was intended to be paid on a real-time basis" and not "intended for bonuses." This is a twist of words. Clearly the reason the money wasn't spent in real time is because the administration refused to release it, even at a time when they were criticizing the Legislature, and at a time when doctors were telling us point-blank that reimbursement rates were too low.
There is no single way to solve the growing healthcare crisis here and on the Mainland. My colleagues and I remain eager to work with the administration to improve the situation.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Rep. Lee addresses Koller comments
The Honolulu Advertiser printed a letter from Rep. Marilyn Lee, vice chair of the House finance committee, addressing the comments made by Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller in a previous news article regarding funds that have not yet been released which would assist physicians who receive low reimbursements for Medicaid patient care.