Legislature introduces bills to alleviate HHSC deficit

For the past year, the Hawaii Legislature has been dealing with The Hawaii Health Systems Corporation’s financial deficit. Services and staff have been reduced and Kaiser is poised to take over the Maui Memorial Medical Center in July.

Even with the cuts and privatization, the Legislature is still dealing with issues of funding and bed space at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Three bills have been introduced in an attempt to mitigate these issues.

HB995, sponsored by Speaker of the House Joseph Souki (D) would allow Hale Makua Health Services to admit more wait-listed patients from Maui Memorial. If passed, Hale Makua would receive up to $4 million in general funds over two years to take the wait-listed patients.

Wait-listed patients require long term care but are stuck in hospitals waiting for beds to open up. About 20 percent of Maui Memorial’s beds are taken by wait-list patients, who are often uninsured or cannot pay their full cost of care.

If 20 wait-list patients are moved out of Maui Memorial, the state would save nearly $11 million, according to Wesley Lo, who runs Hale Makua Health and is the former CEO of Maui Memorial. Each patient costs the state around $1,500 per day.

HB709, also sponsored by Rep. Souki, will if passed, appropriate $1.5 million for the public-private partnership established for administrative purposes to implement a model of health care delivery in Maui county that addresses coordination of care in a seamless, efficient, appropriate, and cost-effective manner, according to the bill’s description.

HB709 is tied to SB277, sponsored by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, Sen. Rosalyn Baker and Sen. Kalani English. The bill will reduce state subsidies to Maui Memorial for wait-list issues while also soliciting proposals to reduce the wait-list and improve the quality of care.