“I don’t know what Governor Ige’s concerns are about the hospital bill,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “We are trying to find out but I don’t want to speculate because we just don’t know.”
The House was prepared to agree with the latest Senate draft of House Bill 1075, which creates a framework for transitioning Maui hospitals to nonprofit management.
But Ige said Tuesday he had concerns about the proposal, and requested a meeting with the House Speaker Joseph Souki from Maui, who sponsored the measure.
Now, instead of heading to the governor’s desk, the bill will join hundreds of other measures that lawmakers will debate over the next two weeks in an end-of-session negotiating period known as conference committee.
The latest version of the measure was strongly opposed by the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the largest union in the state, which fears layoffs.
Arakawa continnued, “What I do know is that HB 1075 is critical for Maui County residents because if it passes it will form a public-private partnership between Maui Memorial Medical Center and Hawaii Pacific Health to help deal with staggering fiscal losses of more than $800 million over the next 10 years.
“For several years myself, our Maui legislators and other members of our community have been lobbying the state to do something about this fiscal shortfall. The time has come for the state to either put in the money to keep Maui Memorial running, or to allow another entity to take over operations.
“For those of us who live in Maui County, there really isn’t anything more important than making sure we have quality health care for our friends and families. The challenges facing Maui Memorial can affect hospital staff, doctors, medical programs, equipment and procedures if the shortfall is not addressed. Maui Memorial is our only major hospital, and this bill is the best chance we have to keep it up and running,” the mayor concluded.