As of April, It will cost less to see the doctor says LBJ CEO
As promised by the Lolo and Lemanu Administration (and as reported on by Samoa News earlier this month) the Hospital Board of Directors has moved forward with one of the governor’s mandates, which is to reduce hospital fees.
It was officially announced on Wednesday, by hospital CEO Joseph Davis Fleming before cabinet members (following the conference call with Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga) that effective April 1, 2014, hospital fees for the out-patient clinics and laboratory will be reduced by $5.00.
This was among the “deliverables” with which Governor Lolo tasked the hospital. He had asked for a reduction of the current $20 to $10 to see a physician, and also recommended that the hospital establish one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa regardless of immigration status.
According to the CEO, this was one of the promises the governor made to his people following the election over a year ago. “This is just a beginning of a series of many other mandates and commitments the governor has tasked the hospital board and myself to achieve,” he noted.
“We are taking baby steps… not that we were rolling in money, but after doing some preliminary analysis, we determined that we could offset or replace the fees that are being paid by individual patients out of pocket in the amount of $5.00, to begin with.”
The hospital CEO said that further analysis will be done with the attempt to target “if we get the support budgetwise…” to reduce it by another $5.00.
Fleming told cabinet members this move “was made possible by the generous support of the governor, Lt governor and the Fono when they increased the budget request — which was significantly increased, and part of that plan was to help absorb some of the burden from the backs of the people to make it more affordable and more accessible.”
The CEO further commended the Medicaid director and former hospital board chair, Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young for her assistance in implementing this mandate. In response, Acting Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga noted that this was one of the Lolo and Lemanu Administration’s promises — that they will do everything to better serve and support the people. He said that this was one of their mandates from the beginning — to lower the cost of hospital fees.
In a hearing before the House Public Health Committee last week Friday, Tualauta Rep. Larry Sanitoa called on the LBJ Medical Center board to “hold off” on implementing the reduction in hospital fees until a complete study had been conducted and a report submitted to the Fono on the impact such a decrease will have on hospital revenue.
However, at the time, the hospital board chairman Mase Akapo insisted the hospital had conducted the necessary analysis and was looking at implementing the fee reduction next month after the matter was presented to the governor.
Mase along with LBJ chief executive officer Joseph Davis-Fleming and EMS boss Galumalemana Popo Avegalio appeared before the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Maugaoali’i Tusipa Anoai.