- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers voted to override Gov. David Ige’s veto of a bill that would transfer control of three Maui County hospitals to Kaiser Permanente, making it the largest privatization of public facilities in state history.

The legislation provides severance packages and retirement benefits to the hospital workers affected by the move, and Ige says it’s too expensive. He vetoed the bill earlier this month, also citing concerns that it could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the Employees’ Retirement System.

The Legislature met in special session Wednesday and secured the necessary votes to overturn Ige’s decision.

“We are extremely grateful to the leadership of and members of the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives for convening a special session to forward the discussions necessary for our hospitals to transition,” said Wes Lo, Hawaii Health Systems Maui Region CEO.

The state authorized the takeover of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Clinic, and Lanai Community Hospital by a private partner last year. Kaiser was selected to take control of the financially troubled hospitals in September.

Ige said he is in discussions with the attorney general about the veto override and that he stands by his decision. He issued a statement saying “this transaction must be done correctly for the common good. The concerns expressed in my veto message have not changed.”

Meanwhile, the Ige administration has been negotiating with a union suing the state over claims that the privatization violates the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution and interferes with collective bargaining agreements. The union represents 1,500 Hawaii Health Systems Corp. employees.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction in May that put the privatization effort on hold.

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