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Hospital control bill stalls

A bill that would have given control of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s East Hawaii medical facilities to Hawaii County appears to have died.

House Bill 576 would have transferred control and operation of Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital, the Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center in Hilo and Hilo’s Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home to the County Council and Mayor Harry Kim.

The bill has been deferred, which essentially means it is unlikely to get a vote this legislative session.

Rep. Mark Nakashima, D-Hamakua, told the Tribune-Herald in January that he and the mayor had a conversation that led Nakashima to write the bill.

Nakashima said Kim wanted a wider range of services at Hilo Medical Center.

Nakashima suggested transferring to county control to allow Kim to have oversight for prioritizing the hospital’s services.

But Nakashima acknowledged, early on, that the bill was unlikely to progress.

Kim told the Tribune-Herald that he hoped the bill would cause more discussion about healthcare funding and that budget cuts would stop.

Before more cuts, he said, a conversation should be held about how to pay for unmet needs.

The only posted testimony on the Legislature’s website for the bill’s public hearing, which occurred Feb. 9 before the Committee on Health, was from Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO for HHSC.

“At this time, the East Hawaii Region of HHSC does not take a position on HB 576, but we continue to monitor it closely,” Brinkman testified. “We appreciate the Legislature’s consideration of measures that may impact our ability to ensure high-quality patient care for the communities we serve.”

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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