American Samoa Hospital Budget Request up $6 Million From Current Year

LBJ under serious financial strain; anticipates 55% of budget from Feds

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 17, 2016) – LBJ Medical Center, which Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says is currently faced with financial challenges, is proposing a more than $50 million budget for fiscal year 2017, with nearly 760 employees, according to the hospital’s budget proposal, which shows about $32.2 million in funding coming from the federal government.

The FY 2017 budget request is about $6.1 million more as compared to last year’s approved budget. And similar to past budget hearings, lawmakers are expected to ask a lot of questions about LBJ’s revenue sources during budget hearings, yet-to-be scheduled.

FUNDING SOURCE

Total FY 2017 budget proposal stands at $50.12 million with 756 employees compared to FY 2016 approved budget of $46 million with 725 employees, according to the budget document, which also shows that actual expenditures for FY 2015 totaled $50.71 million with 745 employees.

Funding sources for the budget include $12.52 million from Federal Medicaid; $7.90 million in US Interior Department subsidy, $7.03 million under the federal Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare); $6 million from ASG subsidy; $6.40 million in LBJ revenue collection; and $4.35 million from Federal Medicare.

LBJ is projecting to receive $5 million under the 2% wage tax, which is collected by the ASG Treasury Department. However, in past years, there have been complaints lodged with the Fono due to ASG not submitting this funding to LBJ in a timely manner.

Lawmakers are expected to question LBJ on its projection of the wage tax, which is paid by all wage earners in the territory.

EXPENDITURES

Similar to all other government entities, the largest LBJ expenditure is personnel costs, totaling $29.79 million (or just over 60%); followed by materials and supplies $15.77 million; $2.69 million in contractual services; $274,500 in travel/education; and $205,000 for “all others”. However, there is no money allocated for capital equipment, although $381,500 was earmarked in the FY 2016 budget.

Medical Services has the highest number of employees at 213 with total budget allocation of $10.5 million. Proposed salaries of medical professionals like a physician, show pay scales ranging from $51,943 for a pediatric physician to $92,198 for an OB/GYN physician. There are three proposed salaries above $100,000 - $101,288 for an Internist; $103,780 for Physician IV; and $112,328 for the chief of surgical service.

The proposed budget also provides various salary levels for nurses, and lawmakers plan to question LBJ officials on the different salaries being offered to both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Additionally, lawmakers are also expected to question the pay scale for EMS staff.

At the Administration Office, it’s total budget proposal is $2.39 million — including $1.36 million for personnel costs with the highest salary level at $123,195 (including a 3% increment) for the chief executive officer, whose current salary is $119,995, according to the budget document. The second highest proposed salary is for the executive assistant at $74,578 (including 3% increment) compared to the current salary level of $73,008.

One expenditure that lawmakers are also expected to question LBJ officials about, is the off island medical referral program, which is not clearly identified in the proposed budget. The referral program is to be funded with part of the proceeds that LBJ receives from the 2% wage tax. Of note, the 2% wage tax revenue can only be used for hospital equipment and the off-island referral program, not personnel costs, according to the law.

(Samoa News has been told that several House members have requested a financial analysis of the entire government budget, which would include LBJ’s budget, to be done before the yet to be scheduled budget hearings by the Fono.)

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2016. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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