LBJ postpones fee hikes

June date scheduled for public hearing on higher fees

LBJ Medical Center has deferred its proposed facility fee increases that were to be effective next week, while a public hearing is being called for next month to receive comments on the fee hikes.

The government owned medical center announced last month its intention to hike facility fees for patients, with the effective date of May 21. At the time, the hospital hadn’t scheduled a public hearing, but the public was allowed to request one directly with LBJ.

In a statement yesterday, the hospital said more than twenty-five members of the public have requested a hearing and the hospital board of directors will hold a hearing to give the public “an opportunity to present their views on the proposed increase.”

According to the statement, the proposed fee hikes “will be deferred until the Board has had an opportunity to consider the comments of the public at the hearing.”

The hearing is set for Jun. 8 from 9a.m. to 11:30a.m. at the hospital chapel and members of the public who wish to be heard are invited to attend this hearing. Alternatively, they may submit written comments to notice@lbj.com.

According to last month’s public notice on the new proposed fee hikes, the last time facility fees were increased at the only hospital in the territory was in 2006. “As you know the costs of utilities, water, fuel, shipping and most of the items you purchase have increased during that time period,” states LBJ.

Additionally, the rate of “medical inflation” — the cost of medication and medical supplies — has increased at a rate much greater than the cost of other items.

“Simply put, in 2012, the Medical Center must pay more for all of the things it must purchase to deliver medical care to you,” it says.

The proposed fee hikes will have residents and non-residents pay different fees. For example, residents fees will hike from $10 per visit to $20 per visit. For non-residents, the person pays $20 up front at time of service and $85  “balance due later”. (See Samoa News edition for Apr. 25th for more details on fees).

LBJ chief executive officer Mike Gerstenberger will talk about the new hospital facility fee hikes at the Chamber of Chamber's general membership meeting on May 23.

According to the Chamber, Gerstenberger “will discusses the current situation here on island, and efforts to address the various issues. He has implemented many reforms, including sweeping personnel and policy changes in the financial offices.”

Topics will include a description of the existing facility and personnel status, the problems being faced, the issue of long term funding and associated legislation, future plans, and proposed rate increases.


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