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LBJ officials hope government will cover shortfall

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Jan. 14, 2012) - LBJ Medical Center's financial shortfall is still in limbo following a letter from LBJ board chairman Moananu Va to LBJ chief executive officer Mike Gerstenberger yesterday afternoon informing him that the board of directors "has agreed to delay the rate increase for another 20 days" after meeting with Gov. Togiola Tulafono and the Fono yesterday morning.

The initial fee hike that was to be implemented on Christmas Eve was postponed until today (Jan. 14), to await the outcome of the government’s efforts to provide funding to the hospital.

Samoa News understands the hospital is able to hold off the rate hike at this point, after receiving its grant funding from the U.S. Interior Department for government operations. However, the hospital is still waiting for ASG to payout the January subsidy payment of more than $300,000.

During yesterday morning’s House Health/Hospital Committee hearing, lawmakers urged Moananu and hospital officials in attendance to postpone the upcoming increase and give the Fono time to work on a financial aid package for the hospital.

To date, there has been only one measure introduced in the Senate to expedite a $3 million appropriation from the ASG Workmen’s Compensation Account. This bill was supposed to go through the third and final reading in the Senate yesterday but was taken off the Senate calendar at the last minute.

No explanation was given by yesterday's acting Senate President Sen. Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen as to why the final vote on the measure was delayed for next Tuesday.

Chairman of the Senate Health/LBJ Hospital Committee Sen. Galea’i Tu’ufuli said the hospital is in dire need of additional funding and the Senate is poised to provide them with a quick cash infusion through this proposal.

Togiola has already stated he does not agree with the Senate's proposal.

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