Gov. signs bills to help hospitals, nursing facilities

Published On: Jun 24 2013 10:36:32 AM HST

HONOLULU -

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law on Friday two bills that increase the sustainability of hospitals and nursing facilities in Hawaii.

House Bill 879 enacted as Act 141, relating to the Hospital Sustainability Program, and House Bill 880 enacted as Act 142, relating to the Nursing Facility Sustainability Program, will leverage available federal funding for the state Department of Human Services to make supplemental payments to hospitals and nursing facilities, offsetting a portion of their uncompensated care costs.

Act 141 also allows the DHS to utilize a portion of the funds to support initiatives that benefit our Medicaid beneficiaries, including the expansion of behavioral health services for the seriously mentally ill.

"These additional funds will help Hawaii hospitals and long-term care facilities sustain operations and continue as critical partners of our healthcare safety net, ensuring that Hawaii residents have increased and continued access to needed services," Gov. Abercrombie said.

George W. Greene, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said, "We are grateful for the Governor’s support of this legislation, which breathes life into a struggling health care system, supporting access to care for Hawaii’s most vulnerable populations. We appreciate the working relationship with the Governor and the Department of Human Services and look forward to continuing to address the needs of the Medicaid population together. We are grateful for strong legislative support of this bill. Continuation of this law will strengthen Hawaii’s health care infrastructure and support access to care for Hawaii’s most vulnerable populations."

The Hospital and Nursing Facility Sustainability Programs were first established in 2012. The DHS, Hawaii Long Term Care Association, and Healthcare Association of Hawaii collaborated throughout the legislative session to ensure the continuation of the Sustainability Programs through these bills.

Bob Ogawa, President of the Hawaii Long-Term Care Association said, "The effort to enact, implement and maintain the Nursing Facility Sustainability Program is the most extraordinary public-private partnership I have ever been involved in. Rarely does one see such a cooperative, good-faith coming together of interests, where the result is a synergy that both well-serves the needs of our kupuna and those who care for them, and enhances the ability to provide for other facets of the state safety net."

In December 2012, the DHS obtained approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to implement the Hospital and Nursing Facility Sustainability Programs. The nursing facilities currently receive approximately $9.6 million and the hospitals receive approximately $37.4 million, in additional federal funding, for state fiscal year 2013.

To learn more about the Department of Human Services medical assistance programs, visit http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/mqd/

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