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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (June 29, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---A solution is available to the current funding crisis that has temporarily halted the RMI’s off-island medical referral program.

"For once in the Marshall Islands, we have a short term problem with a long term solution, instead of the other way around," Marshall Islands Social Security Administration board vice chairman Jack Niedenthal told the Journal.

He said that while the health system will be on "shaky ground" until October 1, "MISSA has a firm commitment from the government that beginning in the next fiscal year there will be a substantial subsidy for the referral program and for equipment and drugs that are sorely needed in the hospital.

When the government provides this budgeted subsidy later this year, it will "mark the first time since the law was passed in the early 1990s that the health system and the social security system will be working the way they were designed to," Niedenthal said.

"I believe this will be milestone for the current administration and this country."



MAJURO, Marshall Islands (June 29, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The Marshall Islands off-island medical referral program was suspended late last week for lack of funding.

The Marshall Islands Social Security Administration issued the announcement last Thursday morning, saying that effective immediately the referral program was halted "pending supplemental funding from the RMI government of $1 million."

MISSA said that certain referrals to Tripler Army Medical Center (Hawai‘i) through the Pacific Islands Health Care Program, pediatric (children’s) referrals to Shriner’s (Hawai‘i), referrals to USAKA Hospital (Kwajalein), and self-referrals under MISSA’s Supplemental Health Plan "will continue uninterrupted."

Two weeks ago, MISSA announced that because a funding crisis had come to a head, with Honolulu hospitals demanding up-front cash payments before they would handle RMI patients, the program would be reduced to absolute emergency-only patients.

The board said that the entire program would be suspended if a total of $2.5 million was not received from the government from June 13 through July 4.

MISSA officials confirmed that the initial $500,000 from the RMI government was received on June 13, but additional funding has not been received, resulting in the medical referral program being suspended.

MISSA reported earlier this month that the RMI owed more than $1.5 million to Hawai‘i hospitals.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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