The state House on Thursday passed legislation approving $7.3 million in emergency funding for Kauai’s publicly funded hospitals and clinics.
The bill now moves to the Senate. Lawmakers are acting on the bill during a special session called to consider a measure that would legalize gay marriage.
Hawaii Health Systems Corp. told lawmakers Kauai’s local health care providers wouldn’t be able to make payroll by the end of the year if the funds weren’t approved, the Garden Island newspaper reported.
Hawaii Health Systems includes Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in Kapaa. It also has clinics in Waimea, Port Allen, Kalaheo and Kapaa.
Executives had initially planned to ask for $2.5 million but nearly tripled their request.
The corporation’s acting CEO, Alice Hall, submitted written testimony saying $2.5 million would "not be sufficient to cover the overdue bills and obligations of the region."
Hawaii Health Systems’ Kauai region has already spent half of its general funding allocations and borrowed $2 million from the Maui region, she said. It also hasn’t paid more than $2 million in its share of "systemwide obligations" to the corporate office.
The emergency funding will last the Kauai region only through the spring, however.
Hall said the corporation must face difficult decisions about services and restructuring to become more cost-effective.
"Kauai is the first region to be in this position; others will follow unless we get more funding or reorganize in a fashion that changes our cost structure," Hall said.
The nine-member HHSC Kauai region board said in testimony before the Senate that "significant problems" with the island health system’s coding and billing departments are contributing to rising account payable debts. They also blamed a "lack of follow-up processes."