Gov looks to ease path for hospital on Maui
Two bills would trim requirements to show a need for facilities
WAILUKU » Gov. Linda Lingle is expected to introduce bills that would enable a second acute-care hospital on Maui.
One bill would exempt the proposed Malulani Health and Medical Center from obtaining a state certificate of need, and another measure would substantially narrow the kind of health care services that require a certificate of need, said Lingle's senior policy adviser, Linda Smith.
Smith said Lingle plans to include both bills in her administration's legislative package on Jan. 22.
Smith said the bill narrowing the scope of certificates of need also would make the local county panel the final filtering body to make recommendations, prior to the issue being decided by the head of the State Health Planning and Development Agency.
Agency head Dr. David Sakamoto rejected the proposed development of Malulani in South Maui, in spite of some $200 million in private money offered to build the facility.
Critics said Malulani would drain resources at the state-run Maui Memorial Medical Center, while supporters said a new hospital would add and improve many services, including emergency care.
While Maui Medical administrators and some medical staff have opposed the new hospital's development, supporters have also included Maui Memorial doctors and nurses as well as South Maui, one of the fastest-growing communities in the state.
Smith said studies have shown that the certificate of need process does not lower health care costs and, in some cases, increases the price of health care. Smith said in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was an excess of hospitals nationwide, the federal government supported the enactment of a certificate of need process by states. By 1986, with a shortage of hospitals, the federal government no longer endorsed the process, and some 12 states have revoked their certificate of need requirement.
"It's a reflection of a philosophy that has taken hold nationwide," she said.
Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of Maui Memorial, was unavailable for comment.