Patients protest over State's new medicaid plans

Lillian Koller
Lillian Koller

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Saving money is a good thing.

But will a cost cutting move by the State leave island patients, who need the most care, without their providers?

There are considered medically fragile 37,000 of Hawaii's aged, blind and disabled medicaid patients.

Some feel they could lose critical care if the state swtiches to mainland managed care providers.

3-year-old Chenoa Fujinaga can't walk on her own. Just one of the many problems that come with a chromosonal abnormality.

"She needs to be constantly supervised and she can fall down and get hurt or have a seizure," said Jarrod Fujinaga, Chenoa's father.

But because of a team of 12 specialists and doctors, she is getting the care she needs.

Care, her parents worry, could be interrupted under the upcoming changes to the state plan.

"It's just scary not knowing what her future entails," said Sheila Funjinaga, Chenoa's mother. "The last thing I ned to worry about is who will provide medical coverage for her."

Some doctors are also raising a red flag over the move to have two mainland companies handle Hawaii's $1.5 billion medicaid contract. And worry some physicians won't sign up for service under the new program because of lower reimbursements.

These new health plans will not be able to provide a network to care for these patients," said Dr. Arleen Jouxson, a pediatrician.

But the state counters the changes will actually make it easier for families and patients by providing more services.

And matching pay for physicians.

"These clients will receive treatment for the first time through a coordinated and comprehensive system of care. It is key to improving the well being of our Kapuna and our disabled citizens," said Lillian Koller with the Department of Human Services.

The move to managed care by the state has been planned for years, but as the end of the year deadline approaches, some families say their pressing medical problems may take a back seat with a new provider. And any changes to their current care could be critical.

"If I can't find another team fast enough what is going to happen to my son what do I do where do I go," said Lafonda Diamond, parent of a Medicaid patient.

These changes are not a done deal yet.

Two lawsuits that have been filed over the medicaid move will be heard in federal court Wednesday.