Although it’s been slow going up until now, the privatization of the public hospitals in Hawaii is gaining steam. Senate Bill 1306 and the more cautious House Bill 1483 both passed their third readings in early March. If these bills currently in the legislature go through, the public hospitals on Hawaii Island and Maui will become private.
What will this mean for the patients in these hospitals? The picture is not yet clear.
Some believe that private hospitals are intrinsically safer and better run than public ones. Research in Australia has shown that private hospitals are safer than public ones. This research focused particularly on hospital births, and found that three times as many babies died during birth in public hospitals, as compared with private. Furthermore, the mothers had double the rate of severe perineal tearing in the public hospitals, and the babies were twice as likely to need high-level resuscitation.
It’s not such a simple picture, however. Privatization means a lot of change, and a completely new system of incentives at Hawaii’s hospitals. Banner Health, of Phoenix, Arizona is the most likely suitor on the scene. Hawaii Health Systems Corp. now runs the “safety net” facilities for the state. Both of these organizations are anxiously watching the legal process.
How will all these changes affect your health care? At Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks we are concerned that every patient receive the highest level of care. We are watching closely as these changes take shape, and we are here for you if you are caught on the wrong side of the system.