Senate Health Committee holds hearing on Medicaid funding


Medicaid Director Sandra King Young told a hearing of the Senate Health Commitete Thursday that the quickest way to get the funding needed to restore Medicaid services, including the off island medical referral program, is for the Fono to pass a supplemental appropriation.

However Senator Magalei Logovii said that any such appropriation must have a funding source.

King Young said she had requested funding of $8 million for the current fiscal year in her budget submission however the administration only approved $4 million which she understood as the government has many other needs for local revenues.

She said the off island referral program funded by Medicaid was started six years ago, without any specific revenue earmarked to fund it. So its taking from the one ASG pot of revenues. She said in order to sustain the program, it needs a new revenue measure to fund it.

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The Medicaid Director said the off island referral program was budgeted to take 25-30 patients per month however the need has grown considerably and at one time they had more than 70 patients in New Zealand plus their escorts.

The LBJ Hospital is continuing its offisland medical referral program however it pays only for airfares for the patient and the escort, and all other costs like medical care and accommodation are paid by the patient, unlike Medicaid funded referrals which covers all the costs.

King Young explained that the LBJ off island referral program had been suspended for many ears because the hospital had racked up huge debts with Hawaii hospitals.

And it was during Governor Lolo Moliga’s tenure that Medicaid became involved and was able to begin sending patients to New Zealand and Hawaii under Medicaid funding. She said currently there are four patients who have yet to complete their treatment…two in New Zealand and two in Hawaii that the program is still covering but they should be returning home soon.

The Medicaid Director told the hearing that to use the full Medicaid funding of $99 million for the current fiscal year, a local match of $30 million is needed.

Senators brought up the closure of the Hope Dialysis Center and asked whether LBJ would be able to provide treatment for their patients when that happens.

LBJ CEO Dr Akapusi Ledua said LBJ’s dialysis Unit has made plans and will be able to accommodate the 42 dialysis patients from Hope Dialysis when it closes at the end of this month.