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Friday, August 11, 2000

Three isle health
providers exploring
a partnership

Star-Bulletin staff

Straub Clinic & Hospital, Kapiolani Health and Kauai's Wilcox Health System, under pressure from falling federal reimbursements, are discussing possibly joining forces but they are not saying what form such an alliance would take.

The companies said they have entered due diligence to discuss a possible partnership to strengthen their delivery of health care. The talks are expected to last for five to six months.

A joint press release issued yesterday said the goal was to "more effectively maintain high standards of quality patient care and provide enhanced services to Hawaii residents through greater economies of scale and collaborations between administrators, physicians, systems and resources."

The three providers cited higher local expenses, increased competition and cuts in government reimbursements as reasons for discussing an alliance.

Straub spokeswoman Ann Nishida said last night that the talks informally started around the end of July. A spokesperson for Wilcox could not be reached. Kapiolani declined comment.

Rich Meiers, president and chief executive of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said this is another sign of the rough financial condition that all of Hawaii's health care providers are in.

Decreased federal reimbursements for Medicare have hurt hospitals in Hawaii and throughout the nation. Mergers between health care providers have become common on the mainland.

Last year, Straub and Queen's Medical Center ended talks about a possible alliance without coming to an agreement.

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