JABSOM Funding Challenge: School Will Strive to Find Resources Beyond Just Tuition Hikes
Date: May 02, 2011
Our MD students asked lawmakers to support JABSOM, at a hearing in February
A bill allowing the John A. Burns School of Medicine to use all of the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement funds the state has allocated to the school failed to make it to a vote -- along with several other key measures -- as the regular session of the 2011 Hawai'i State Legislature adjourned.
There was disappointment, because earlier on the final day for decision making, the JABSOM measure appeared to have support in both houses. But in the end, negotiators for the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees deadline in conference sessions over a different bill, one the House of Representatives supported to tax pension income over $200,000. The Senate firmly opposed any pension tax.
The JABSOM bill (SB 239) involved $3 to $4 million annually which the school needed to continue to increase the MD class size, establish a residency on the Big Island and other efforts, including extensive tobacco cessation activities by the school's medical students, faculty physicians and public health professionals. The authorization for JABSOM to use the money expires on June 30, 2011. In February, medical students traveled to the Capitol to speak with lawmakers about JABSOM's role in the community, to appear at a legislative hearing and to ask for continued support for the school.
While Health and Higher Education committee conferees had already agreed to lessen tobacco money going to JABSOM by 1% a year in 2014 and 2015, before the money committees could vote their talks collapsed. There were two hours left on the clock before the traditional midnight decision-making deadline, but the two sides called it a night.
JABSOM hopes lawmakers will consider restoring the funding early in the next legislative session. In the meantime, Dean Jerris Hedges said, "I am going to be working with the UH Manoa Chancellor and UH President to make modifications in the medical school. It will probably take a few months to reach the level of the UH Board of Regents, but we are going to move ahead and make adjustments."
Unfortunately, those adjustments could include raising tuition and altering the ratio of in-state versus out-of-state students admitted into JABSOM. The school has prided itself in following the dream of former Governor John Burns to provide the maximum opportunity to students from Hawai'i and the Pacific. Ninety percent of JABSOM's current MD students are from Hawai'i.
Should tuition increase, it could be a bitter pill for local families to swallow. According to a new report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the parents of JABSOM students have the lowest incomes of any U.S. medical school, at an annual $85,000 per year. In 2011-2012, in-state tuition at JABSOM is $29,184 per year.
Tuition increases at UH are decided by the Board of Regents, a process that includes notice and public hearings before implementation. JABSOM would anticipate that no increase of tuition is expected to be above 10%. Many of our students receive financial aid and scholarships.
The school said already vigorous efforts to increase scholarship opportunities will be intensified in the anticipation of any tuition increase.
"JABSOM will work tirelessly to continue to offer our students the best and most affordable education possible with what has always included generous support from our State, our University, and the citizens of Hawai’i," said Dean Hedges.