New LBJ board members confirmed by the Senate
Despite many challenges faced by the LBJ Medical Center, especially in the area of finances, hospital board member, Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen, says the medical center continues to provide service to the public.
Faimealelei made the statement during his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee on Wednesday after being re-nominated by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for another term. The governor newly nominated his executive assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, who replaces board member and chairman Filifa’atali Michael Fuiava, who resigned after being confirmed by the Fono in February as Agriculture director.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie informed senators during Tuesday’s Senate session about a communication from the governor that Iulogologo was off island for medical reasons and therefore would not attend Wednesday’s confirmation hearing.
At the end of Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, committee members debated as to whether the names of both Faimealelei and Iulogologo would be presented to the full Senate for a vote.
Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga T. Nua, who is also the Senate Rules Committee chairman, again, informed the committee of the governor’s letter about Iulogologo being off island for medical reasons. He presented a motion to forgo, or waive Senate rules, and allow Iulogologo’s name to be voted on during the Senate session.
However, there were some concerns in waiving Senate rules, with Sen. Satele Galu Satele Sr. arguing for senators to maintain the rules and not to set a precedent when it comes to the confirmation and vote process on a nominee.
Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean pointed out that Senate rules have been waived in the past and cited the case in the 34th Legislature when rules were waived and the Senate voted and confirmed two board members of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa, who were off island at the time for medical reasons and didn’t attend their confirmation hearings.
In the end the committee agreed and Iulogologo’s name was voted on during Wednesday’s Senate session, where both he and Faimealelei each received unanimous votes of 16- 0. Under local law, only the Senate confirms members of the American Samoa Medical Center Authority board — better known as the LBJ board.
Iulogologo, who previously served as board chairman under the Tauese Administration, has served in both the executive and legislative branches. During Lolo’s tenure as Senate president a few years ago, Iulogologo was his top advisor. Iulogologo has also served as director of the ASG Economic Planning Office — which years later became the Commerce Department.
In his nomination letter, Lolo said Iulogologo, whose term is for four years, has extensive financial and public administration experience.
For Faimealelei, the governor said the lawmaker’s experience on the board and in public service would help LBJ execute long-term strategies that will allow it to be self-sustainable.
Responding to Sen. Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet’s questions, Faimealelei said that the biggest issue, to him, in the last four years on the board, is money for the hospital to carry out its services to the community.
He said it takes about two or three months for Medicaid money to be received and this is the same case when it comes to money the hospital is to receive based on local laws. For example, the subsidy, which is approved by the Fono, he said, adding that there are times that LBJ received only $100,000 within a three-month period.
Additionally, there were times in the past where LBJ didn’t receive the entire subsidy allocated by law, when a fiscal year ends, he said, but noted that despite these financial setbacks the hospital continues to provide service.
And no matter the financial situation faced by the hospital, he said the “priority” is to provide service to the public.
Samoa News notes that for this fiscal year, the ASG subsidy is $6Mil — that’s $500,000 per month and that the governor has said government subsidies to departments, including authorities and agencies, are paid when the money is available.