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House health committee passes St. Francis' $80M bond bill

By Kristen Consillio

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:14 p.m. HST, Feb 10, 2012

 Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com A sign at the front entrance of Hawaii Medical Center in Ewa gave notice Monday that the emergency room, below, is now closed. The ER facility was the second busiest in the state last year for ambulance arrivals.

House Health Committee lawmakers advanced today two measures intended to help St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii reopen the now defunct Hawaii Medical Centers.

The first, House Bill 2345, would provide St. Francis up to $80 million in special-purpose revenue bonds to renovate the HMC-West and HMC-East campuses and "reopen the now-closed hospital in Ewa Beach," said state Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D, Waipahu-Honouliuli-West Loch-Ewa), who introduced the measure.

Meanwhile, the committee passed another measure, House Bill 609, which would allow the public hospital system known as Hawaii Health Systems Corp. to negotiate with St. Francis to operate Liliha's HMC-East facility.

Both bills now head to the House Finance Committee.

The Franciscan sisters sold the hospitals in January 2007 for $68 million to HMC LLC, then a for-profit joint venture between Hawaii Physician Group LLC, composed of 130 local doctors, and Kansas-based Cardiovascular Hospitals of America. St. Francis provided the bulk of the financing for the sale, $40.2 million.

HMC first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2008. It emerged in August 2010 and became a nonprofit organization before filing its second bankruptcy in June. HMC began closing the hospitals in December.






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