Hawaii House Considers Legislation That Would Temporarily Give State Health Department Authority Over Public Hospitals
Legislation being considered in the Hawaii House would eliminate the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and temporarily move 13 of the system's public hospitals to the state Health Department, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports.
The state Senate version of the bill proposed allowing regional hospitals the choice of becoming other types of entities and attracting public-private partnerships. It also proposed increases in operational and construction funding for HHSC. The legislation said HHSC "must stay intact" to provide support for its regional systems.
According to House Health Chair Ryan Yamane, the House proposal is the result of the state's financial crisis, annual HHSC requests for emergency appropriations and financial questions raised by the state auditor in a review of the system. Yamane said that the hospitals would be under the authority of the health department from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2012, and that a transition committee would be formed to recommend a permanent structure for the hospital system that meets state needs.
State Health Director Chiyome Fukino said moving the hospitals would be a "catastrophic" decision that could result in a "collapse of the entire hospital system." HHSC said the House proposal would "devastate" the hospitals so that they would be closed before corrective action could be taken in the 2011 Legislature.
A conference committee of House and Senate negotiators met Tuesday to discuss the differences in the proposals (Altonn, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 4/27).