Hawaii hospitals eye healthcare reform vote - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii hospitals eye healthcare reform vote

President Obama President Obama
George Green George Green

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first family won't be flying in Wednesday after all. The President will delay his Hawaiian holiday vacation, until the health care battle on Capitol Hill is over.

The controversial health care reform bill is at a critical stage, and the President wants to be there for the Senate's final vote, even if it means holding off on his family's traditional Hawaii vacation.

Health care reform first, an island holiday vacation second - President Obama made his priorities clear.

"I will not leave until my friends in the senate have completed their work. My attitude is that if they're making the sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans, then the least I can do is to be around and provide them any encouragement and last minute help where necessary," said the President.

Hawaii hospitals are eyeing the key senate vote, expected on Christmas Eve.

"The terms that we support are more coverage, more access, and appropriate reimbursement for the industry," said George Green, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH).

All healthcare providers in Hawaii are members of HAH.

The bill would protect a program that requires Hawaii businesses to insure anyone who works at least 20 hours a week.


"That's very important for us because the Pre-paid Health Care Act has kept our uninsured numbers low compared with the rest of the nation," said Green.

One concern Hawaii hospitals have - under the bill, if you're taken to the hospital, then have to go back in a month for something that could've been treated the first time, then the hospital will lose money.

Green says they're trying to narrow the list of illnesses that apply to the penalty.

"We're also trying to shorten the time period because obviously if you get beyond 15 days there are all sorts of issues that can arise that a hospital has no control over," said Green.

The final version of the bill will change between now and Christmas Eve.

That's because lawmakers must find a compromise between the House and the Senate's version.

No compromise, could mean no vote.

But, at this point, Democrats believe they have the votes needed in both chambers to pass the bill.

So Sasha and Malia Obama will likely have their tropical Christmas.

The final vote is due Thursday, 3 a.m. Hawaii time.

The first family is expected to fly out to Oahu immediately after that, and land sometime in the afternoon.

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