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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 29, 2002

Cayetano to veto hospital breakup

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday said he would veto a bill moving through the Legislature to break up the state's community hospital system.

The House bill to separate the Maui hospitals out of the quasi-private Hawai'i Health Systems Corp. was amended in the Senate to break it into four county regional systems at a cost of $49 million.

Supporters say Maui Memorial Medical Center is the only facility that makes a profit, but instead of going to expand and improve the hospital it instead goes to support hospitals on other islands.

The support at the Legislature for the breakup appears to focus on the high salaries of the HHSC executives, including the $255,000 annual pay and $50,000 "incentive pay" given to HHSC President Thomas Driskill.

While he understands the concern of the people on Maui, a breakup makes no sense and would hurt the state's concept of a statewide healthcare system, Cayetano said.

"I would hope the legislators, particularly the majority Democrats, would reflect on what the philosophy of this state has been," he said.

If the same breakup theory were applied to transportation, the Neighbor Islands with miles of state highways would lose millions of dollars in highway money generated on O'ahu, Cayetano said.