Severe shortage of prenatal care options on Maui called ‘crisis’ amid growing push for legislative action
KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are growing concerns about prenatal care on Maui amid a severe shortage of specialists that experts say could result in pregnancy complications.
The situation is so alarming, some are calling on lawmakers to take immediate action.
The crisis developed after the island’s only private obstetrics practice announced it would stop OB services in October. That leaves pregnant people on island with two options for care: Kaiser Permanente and Malama I Ke Ola.
Officials with Malama I Ke Ola, a federally qualified health center, said they have taken a “significant number” of patients that were previously seen by Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons.
They added in a statement:
“Due to our current capacity, we are unable to be the complete solution for the gap in obstetric access caused by the discontinuation of services at this private practice.”
They recommend pregnant people on Maui contact their insurance providers for more information.
They said they are also reaching out to local lawmakers for help.
“Malama I Ke Ola said that left about 40 to 55 privately insured patients per month without access, and that’s the people who don’t have Kaiser,” said Maui state Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran.
“So, what they are looking for is whether the insurers would be able to help come up with a solution.”
Health insurer Hawaii Medical Service Association says it is aware of the OB shortage on Maui and is working with partners on a solution for ongoing care.
“We will provide reimbursement for our expecting moms or we can help arrange travel to Oahu for them. If members need help with benefits and coverage under their current health plan, we encourage them to call our Customer Relations line at (808) 948-6079,” said HMSA Assistant Vice President Lori Ann Davis.
Maui state Rep. Terez Amato called the situation “unacceptable.”
“As a mother of four children and as the Vice Chair of Human Service, and a member of Consumer Protection and the Health Committees, I’m disturbed,” Amato said. “Healthcare is really, it’s a human right.”
Meanwhile, insurer Hawaii Medical Association added:
“The dire situation of the physician shortage in Hawaii is being felt by pregnant women on Maui, at a crisis level.”
HMA said long-term proposals are under consideration at the Legislature, but added pregnant people cannot wait.
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