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Hospital board approves $5 reduction in many fees

joy@samoanews.com

The Hospital Board has approved a reduction of $5 from all outpatient clinic fees, laboratory fees and Emergency Room fees, and Hospital Board member, Faimealelei Anthony Allen, confirmed this.
 
This was in response to Samoa News questions about the hospital’s move to comply with the Governor’s mandate regarding hospital fees, wherein Lolo had asked for the establishment of one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa regardless of immigration status, and a revival of the off island referral program.
 
“In our meeting held on February 20, we approved the reduction of $5 for now, but we are looking at deducting an additional $5 by the end of the year to meet the deliverables by the governor, to reduce the current $20 fee to $10 to see a physician.” 
 
Asked about the fees for medication, Faimealelei explained there would be more details on the reduction of fees coming from the hospital administration in the near future but assured that this reduction should be official by the third quarter of Fiscal Year, 2014, which begins April 1, 2014.
 
Faimealelei told Samoa News the board has yet to resolve the issue of the off island referral program, yet the public is directly seeking assistance from the governor and Lt governor, and that does not paint a good picture of the hospital board or the hospital itself.
 
Another issue he pointed out was that another board member believed the off island referral program should be beneficial only for US nationals and US citizens.
 
“This really upset me, and I raised it in the meeting that everyone, despite race, who is working in the territory and paying the 2% wage tax which — according to the law — 50% goes to the operation of the hospital and 50% is allocated for the off island referral program, so everyone should be entitled to this program,” said Faimealelei.
 
BACKGROUND
 
In his address at the opening of the Fono in January the governor pointed out that his collective expectations on healthcare improvement at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center had not materialized. He said the mandate calling for major changes at LBJ remained unfulfilled and admitted that “there are a lot of problems at the hospital.”
 
The governor in a letter to the hospital board last month pointed out that he had called an emergency meeting with the hospital board, following requests from members of the public seeking the governor’s assistance to secure airfares for three critically ill patients that the Off-Island Medical Committee had approved for travel.
 
“It was disconcerting for me when I was told that the patients not only had to finance their airfares but they also had to shoulder the full cost of their off island medical care, and while patients scrounged for airfares, your CEO traveled constantly,” said Governor Lolo.
 
Lolo pointed out that this is not an acceptable scenario especially when the FY 2014 is $17 million greater than the FY2013 Budget.
 
“I am very disappointed to say that many deliverables were not accomplished,” he noted. Samoa News pointed out that some of the deliverables to which Governor Lolo was referring are the reduction of the current $20 fee to $10 to see a physician and the recommendation to establish one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa regardless of immigration status.
 
The board’s efforts to adjust the “unrealistic salaries of key management staff” in reference to the financial capacity of LBJ has been stymied by administrative controversy, he said, adding that the hospital board has been urged to focus its attention on improving the quality of healthcare services to the people.



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