Meet­ing new HMSA chief

The Maui News - - OPINION -

We were im­pressed with Michael Stol­lar, new chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Hawaii Med­i­cal Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion, when we met him for the first time Fri­day morn­ing.

Stol­lar took over di­rec­tion of HMSA when Michael Gold re­tired.

Among other items, Stol­lar said that while there have been some bumps in the road, he has been pleased with the progress Kaiser Per­ma­nente has made since tak­ing over the fa­cil­i­ties that for­merly made up the Maui Re­gion of Hawaii Health Sys­tem Corp. in July.

Stol­lar also an­swered our ques­tions about what is be­ing done to try to put some brakes on the spi­ral­ing cost of health care. As reg­u­lar read­ers know, we write here of­ten about our frus­tra­tions and con­cerns over ever-ris­ing med­i­cal costs.

Among other items, Stol­lar said that HMSA is study­ing ef­forts in Mary­land to stan­dard­ize costs for treat­ment. The Mary­land Health Ser­vice Cost Re­view Com­mis­sion has a plan for ev­ery hos­pi­tal in the state to charge the same price for med­i­cal and sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures.

Stol­lar said that HMSA is in­tensely in­ter­ested in the cost re­view com­mis­sion’s ef­forts and will send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive there to ob­serve their ef­forts and re­sults.

When queried about the high price of drugs, Stol­lar re­sponded it would take a fed­eral ef­fort to reg­u­late what Big Pharma can charge and how big of a profit mar­gin it should be al­lowed. When pressed about the some­times-huge dif­fer­ences be­tween drug prices in the United States and Canada, Stol­lar pointed out that the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­ates the pric­ing with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

Stol­lar also re­vealed Fri­day that Maui is next in line to have an HMSA Neigh­bor­hood Ser­vice Cen­ter. The new fa­cil­ity will han­dle a va­ri­ety of items for HMSA sub­scribers, in­clud­ing health-re­lated classes and bill pay­ing. It will open at the end of this year or the be­gin­ning of next year at the Pu‘un­ene Shop­ping Cen­ter in Kahu­lui.

We left the meet­ing feel­ing that the largest health in­surer in the state re­mains in very good hands. Michael Stol­lar comes across as a bright, forth­right in­di­vid­ual. Ed­i­to­ri­als re­flect the opin­ion of the pub­lisher.

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