Hospital official says bill
will spur service cuts

The state's hospitals might not have enough money to pay employees, perform some services and pay vendors, under proposed budget cuts lawmakers are to vote on today, said a community hospitals official.

Gov. Linda Lingle asked lawmakers for $31.2 million to subsidize the operations of the state's 12 community hospitals next year. That is the same amount the Legislature appropriated for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

But the House Finance Committee put just $20 million in next year's budget.

"We are not able to absorb this cut," said Thomas Driskill, president of Hawaii Health Systems Corp., who predicted layoffs and service cuts.

The budget bill, House Bill 1800, House Draft 1, anticipates the hospitals will make up the $11.2 million difference in higher collections. The community hospitals agency testified it has made significant improvements through higher collections and cost-cutting programs.

Driskill said Medicaid, Medicare and the insurance plans of the patients treated at the hospitals fund about 90 percent of the operations. But because many patients do not have any or enough insurance coverage, the state subsidizes the other 10 percent.

Patient fees are expected to bring in $298 million this year and the same amount next year, Driskill said. The hospitals collected $276 million last year and $243 in fiscal year 2002, he said.


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