Wednesday, August 13, 2008

HHSC - Report from Maui

The House Finance and Senate Ways & Means committees were on Maui Monday evening to gather information on a projected $62 million shortfall for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC), a network of the state's public hospital facilities. The Maui News was there and filed this report. Here are the highlights:

The $62 million deficit breaks down as follows (in millions): $21.8 for Maui; $26.9 for East Hawaii; $7.6 for West Hawaii; $4.2 for Kauai; and $1.5 for Oahu.

On Oahu, the deficit is for two long-term care facilities, Leahi and Maluhia.

Five major reasons why there is a shortfall: 1)mandated care for uninsured patients; 2)inadequate reimbursements from both government programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and private insurers; 3)beds taken by long-term care patients; 4)cost of physicians taking emergency calls; and 5)salaries and fringe benefits for unionized workers.

Wesley Lo, CEO of Maui Memorial Medical Center, advocated for greater flexibility for the hospitals in having authority over their own finances. He proposed a concept to create separate corporations for each acute care hospital and still maintain the regional boards. This would supposedly allow each community to deal with their own unique financial situations in their own way.

Today - the joint committee heads to Hilo this afternoon for another HHSC informational briefing to address concerns on the public hospital system in East Hawaii. The event starts at 3:30 p.m. at UH Hilo.

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