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Hawaii Legislature considers privatizing hospitals

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm •  Published: February 15, 2013

But Baker said she thinks the employees may have to become private for the transition to occur.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Josh Green says that although he approved the bill, he still has concerns about the proposal and added language to make sure that the health committee will review it again before it can pass.

"There's an incredible amount of public trust in this issue," said Green, who works as a doctor on the Big Island. "It's big money, it's 4,000 employees and it is the health care of our community."

Green says details still need to be worked out about workers' job security, the breadth of care the company will provide and the size of the government subsidy the company is requesting.

Maui Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran says that despite the difficulty of transitioning to a private system, the need to do something to improve health and cut costs is urgent.

Wesley Lo, CEO of Maui Memorial, testified that the hospital lost more than $140 million in 2012. Even with state subsidies, the net loss was almost $70 million.

Lo said he supports the proposal because the hospital has no choice but to seek alternatives to public funding.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will deliberate the proposal next.