29 Nov 2005

American Samoa hospital board defends fee rise

4:49 pm on 29 November 2005

The board of the LBJ Medical Centre in American Samoa says 1.7 million US dollars offered by the Legislature to stop patient fees rising was not enough.

The Legislature has threatened to get a court injunction to stop the hospital charging higher fees, which it says are illegal because the amended fees papers were not filed properly.

But the hospital says the increases are necessary to sustain current services and it won't rescind the increases nor refund money to patients who have paid them.

The chair of the board, Charles Warren, says the Legislature did offer the board a carrot.

"They make about 1.7 million dollars available to the hospital this year. We didn't have the fee increase which is a wonderful thing. However, that doesn't take care of next year, the year, the year after that. We needed more of a sustainable source of revenue versus a one-time appropriation."

Charles Warren hopes the Legislature will still make the money available because he says there is about 3-million dollars of old equipment needing replacing at the hospital.