- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - A bill that would establish a framework allowing partnerships between Hawaii’s public health system and private health care providers is advancing to a conference committee.

The state House Finance Committee this week unanimously passed Senate Bill 3064, which would allow the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. to transition one or more of its regions to the control of a nonprofit corporation, West Hawaii Today (http://is.gd/vegps1) reported Friday.

Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, said his bill would allow HHSC to work with private hospitals and become more streamlined in offering health care and addressing staffing needs.

Green said he plans to open the conference committee in mid-April.

The bill includes measures guaranteeing existing contracts would be honored. Another measure calls for a private partner to maintain all services the hospitals provide, Green said.

Included among amendments made by the House would be the creation of a negotiating team to help with the transition, according to Green, who would like to see public and medical communities represented on such a team.

State Rep. Nicole Lowen, D-Kona, voted in favor of the amended bill on Tuesday. Like Green, she would like to see partners whose companies know Hawaii.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association opposes the bill. Executive Director Randy Perreira said in written testimony that the language of the bill does not sufficiently identify long-term liabilities the state would face through provider subsidies.

Alice Hall, the acting president and CEO of HHSC, said the bill does not fully identify the transition committee.

“In addition, the voting and decision making mechanism is not defined,” Hall said in written testimony. “Will it be a majority vote to make decisions?”

Green said state lawmakers would have to approve any partnership.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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