- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Hospital and state administrators expect to select either Kaiser Permanente Hawaii or Hawaii Pacific Health as a partner for Maui County’s three public hospitals by the end of September.

Gov. David Ige said during a public forum at Maui Waena Intermediate School that the partnership hopes to deliver higher quality health care on the island, reported The Maui News (http://bit.ly/1JVsu6g ).

“For those of us in Hawaii, we are so fortunate that we definitely are ahead of the nation in terms of our commitment in believing that quality health care really should be provided to each and every citizen,” said Gov. Ige on Tuesday.

Ige, who has been tasked with leading negotiations for the transition, signed a bill into law in June that clears the way for a possible takeover of Maui County hospitals by a private partner.

Kaiser and Hawaii Pacific are the only two companies that have expressed interest in partnering with the Maui region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. The quasi-public entity includes Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals in Maui County as well as other Neighbor Island and rural Oahu public health facilities.

Joe Pluta, who has lobbied for a West Maui hospital for 17 years, said that health care on Maui is in need of immediate attention to ensure quality access for all Maui residents and visitors.

“This process creates new hope again, I don’t see how we could lose. Of the two suitors we got … Maui wins, no matter who is selected. I like those odds,” Pluta said.

The potential partners have until Aug. 24 to submit their proposals, which will be reviewed by the HHSC Maui Region Board and the Ige administration. A contract could be signed as soon as early next year.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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