Nonprofit Newswire | Unsustainable in Hawaii

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February 7, 2010; Honolulu Advertiser | In Hawaii, the state’s budget problems have resulted in a proposal to delay for a full quarter approximately $300 million in payments to medical insurers. Quest, which is Hawaii’s health plan for low income families, is funded largely by the federal government but Hawaii is projecting that it will be unable to make its match and is trying to put off paying out on these contracts until next fiscal year beginning in July. Insurers and medical providers are worried about the delay causing cash flow problems throughout the system. Beth Giesting of the Hawaii Primary Care Association, which represents community health centers said that the situation “would be extremely frightening” because if the state isn’t paying the plans, then the plans are not going to be paying for the approximately 41% of those covered by Quest. NPQ covered Hawaii’s habit of treating its vendors as involuntary lenders in its Spring 2009 edition (page 12, Imua Family Services or read it online in the Age of Obama section of our Web site). This is not, by the way, the only measure that Hawaii is proposing to push the deficit for this fiscal year into next. According to Gov. Linda Lingle, in what is likely to be something less than a crowd pleaser, the state will delay $275 million in income tax refunds from April to July.—Ruth McCambridge