Cash infusions boost Hawaii hospitals


POSTED: Thursday, March 12, 2009

An additional $14.4 million in federal funding will help Hawaii's beleaguered public and private hospitals cover ever-increasing uncompensated and charity care, says Rich Meiers, Healthcare Association of Hawaii president and chief executive officer.

But he said, “;With the economic situation the way it is and people losing jobs, we are concerned that this whole issue will blow out of proportions this year.”;

Sixteen private hospitals statewide received checks totaling $7.5 million yesterday out of the new federal allocation. Public hospitals managed by the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. will receive $6.9 million throughout the year.

The state Department of Human Services obtained the money from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, making a total of about $100 million in extra federal funding for the hospitals since 2005.

The total includes $69.4 million in federal-only funds, plus $31 million in matching federal and state funds through the federal Disproportionate Share Hospital Program.

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona and state Human Services Director Lillian Koller presented the checks to hospital officials yesterday at the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“;While Hawaii is fortunate to have the highest percentage of insured residents in the nation, we still have many thousands of people who lack coverage and, therefore, must rely on the vital services provided by our private and public hospitals,”; Koller said.

Hospital operating losses totaled more than $150 million last year because of inadequate Medicare and Medicaid payments, coupled with rising charity care and bad debt.

“;We are very concerned with what is going to happen this year with the uncompensated and charity care that the hospitals provide,”; Meiers said.

He said the hospitals were hoping some of roughly $320 million coming to Hawaii in federal funding for the Medicaid program would go to the hospitals, but it looks as though the administration plans to put the money in the state general fund.

“;So instead of those dollars being used for health care, they'll be used to pave potholes, paint Aloha Stadium and etc.”;

Meiers said the Healthcare Association has been working with the American Hospital Association and with others to increase hospital reimbursements because of the rising tide of layoffs and uninsured patients.

This is putting hospitals “;in a bigger bind,”; he said, pointing out they have had financial troubles for 10 to 15 years because of charity care, bad debt and low reimbursements.

“;This is not new for hospitals. Over the last 15 years, they've been downsizing, cutting and realigning services,”; he said. “;It's only been in the past six months that we've seen the rest of industry and business have to do what we've had to do for 10 to 15 years.”;


Money for medical care

These private hospitals received federal funds yesterday:

» The Queen's Medical Center, $2,917,641
» Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, $1,091,049
» Hawaii Medical Center-East, $570,294
» Hawaii Medical Center-West, $467,015
» Castle Medical Center, $560,764
» Straub Clinic & Hospital, $464,895
» Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, $295,691
» Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi, $280,619
» Kuakini Medical Center, $183,685
» Wahiawa General Hospital, $154,621
» North Hawaii Community Hospital, $120,296
» Wilcox Memorial Hospital, $180,432
» Wahiawa General Hospital, $154,621
» North Hawaii Community Hospital, $120,296
» Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, $81,686
» Molokai General Hospital, $49,043
» Wahiawa General Hospital, $154,621