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Sunday, April 28, 2019
April 28, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 706 Views

OHA CFO Ousted to Block 'Fair Treatment' of Grant Requests?

HB172: Legislature Denies Funding for OHA and LLCs Unless Audit for Fraud, Waste and Abuse is Completed

OHA’s LLCs: The Noose Is Tightening

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Public urged to participate in next round of hearings on proposed Maunakea rules

Growing demands for more government money sure to pick pockets of Oahu taxpayers

Borreca: … A touch of financial reality will soon force itself into the conversation at City Hall.

Slowly, officials must see the impossible set of demands set in front of them as the city costs just won’t match the money at hand.

Any hard decisions reached will be because they are forced on city officials from the outside, not because the city is giving up its big spending ways.

For instance, here is this new problem. Last week, Hawaii firefighters were awarded a new two-year contract, raising salaries 2% in each of the next two years….

At the same time, the city expects employee retirement costs to increase 13% next year. “…

Caldwell’s budget notes that even before the train starts to roll, costs are going up.

“The budget includes $7.8 million for bus service enhancements and additional service hours to address delays due to rail construction,” said Caldwell in his budget document.

“CIP budget includes $45 million for the development of the Ala Moana Transit Plaza, to be planned as an iconic rail station at Ala Moana Center and $4 million for Intermodal connectivity improvements,” Caldwell said.

Iconic does not usually mean “over budget,” but in the case of Honolulu Hale operations, it might fit the definition.

There is $6.77 million slated for consultant services to prepare for rail operations….

…the city is just scooping up millions of new property tax dollars.

“Real property taxes remain strong and are projected to grow by approximately $108 million or 8.5% over the FY19 budgeted amount, before any proposed rate changes,” said Caldwell.

Also, tack on an extra $18 million in new motor vehicle weight tax increases. You want to register your car, expect to pay more.

read … Growing demands for more government money sure to pick pockets of Oahu taxpayers

Legislators pitch savings but who’ll save us from them?

Shapiro: … State legislators are pushing a state-run program called “Hawaii Saves” to help private-sector workers save for retirement. After falling $13 billion short in saving for its own retirees, the state wants to spread around the insolvency….

Legislators are promoting a complex new way of electing political candidates known as ranked-choice voting. The way it works is they keep counting your second, third and fourth choices until a Democrat wins….

A city salary commission panel recommended 3.5% pay raises for the mayor, City Council and department heads, less than the 4.25% sought by Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Taxpayers aren’t paying enough to subsidize his side gig at Territorial Savings?….

read … Legislators pitch savings but who’ll save us from them?

Hospital liaison program offers help and hope for homeless

SA: … He was plagued by chronic infections from wounds on his legs, and up until last month he also was living with a painful broken hip from a fall.

Between 2017 and 2018, Hoover estimates he was in and out of the hospital roughly eight to 10 times — and taken by ambulance at least seven times — for a variety of conditions specifically caused by living in unsanitary conditions outdoors.

“I stayed at Queen’s (Medical Center) more than anyone should ever have to,” he said. “I was one of the homeless people using the ER because I didn’t have a primary care provider and no other option for medical care….

Hoover is among a growing number of patients with social needs adding to the hospital’s costs for uncompensated care, which totals $10 million to $12 million annually. The critical gap between clinical care and social services is prompting health care providers, medical insurers and other payers to look at ways to solve the problem.

A $4.5 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and another $6.4 million from UnitedHealthcare is funding a new program to reduce the costs of uncompensated care and help patients like Hoover get back on their feet and out of the system….

Launched in October, the program funds about a dozen navigators that help Medicare and Medicaid patients find social services — including those that provide food, housing, transportation and jobs — in an effort to improve health outcomes and reduce skyrocketing medical costs, particularly in the emergency room….

Typically upon discharge, Hoover returned to the streets. But Mamae got him into a shelter and even bought him an airbed when he found out Hoover was sleeping on the floor.

“He’s gone to doctor’s appointments. When we met we had coffee together,” Hoover said. “They’re trying to turn things around where the ER isn’t a revolving door for homeless. They’re following up trying to direct them to other places.”

Since connecting with a navigator, Hoover, who moved to Hawaii from Washington state in the 1970s when he was 20 years old, was able to get Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income residents, and have hip surgery. He receives about $1,200 a month in Social Security….

(NOTE: He wasn’t on Medicaid so the hospital wasn’t getting paid.)

On Christmas Eve, Mamae helped him get into an emergency shelter, then a temporary boarding house in Kalihi, while working to get him into his “forever home.”

“Typically when a patient gets discharged from the hospital that’s it,” Mamae said, adding that through this program he will work with Hoover until “all his needs are met and even beyond that.”

Since the program began, roughly 10,400 patients have been screened to determine if they qualify for a navigator. The goal is to reach 75,000 screenings annually. Patients who have had two or more ER visits within the last 12 months and are in need of certain social services are eligible. They do not need to be a UnitedHealthcare member.

“Before a patient becomes a ‘hyperuser’ — the ones constantly coming into the ER multiple times a month — our program sort of tries to catch them before they get to that point,” Mamae said….

Jan, 2018: $82K Per Bum: Hospitals Rake in $1.2B Treating Homeless Shelter-Refusers (by getting them on Medicaid)

read … Hospital liaison program offers help and hope for homeless

Owner Fined $124K for Building Affordable Housing ‘Monster’

HNN: … The city has fined the owner of a Kalihi monster home more than $124,000 after he ignored orders to stop building a year and a half ago.

The owner of the six-story, 20-bedroom home at 1909 Kalihi St. continues to do work on the home on a separate city permit issued last September.

"This is an example of a builder that does not care about our values….”

The owner, Wen Ping Weng, denied wrongdoing. He said other homes in his neighborhood are bigger….

In November 2017, the city began fining the owner $300 a day and ordered him to stop the non-permitted construction activity. Since then, he’s racked up more than $124,000 dollars in fines….

Meanwhile, Pine said a bill — approved by the City Council and awaiting the mayor’s signature — will make it even harder for people to build monster homes like this.

“We urge the mayor to please sign it as soon as possible so we can tear this house down," Pine said….

read … "It’s an eyesore': City fines owner of monster home on steroids $124K

Hawaii gun group aims to sue over ‘red flag’ law

SA: … SB 1466 would create a process that police or family members could use to petition Family Court for a protective order to prevent a person from accessing firearms if that person “poses a danger of causing bodily injury” to anyone, including himself or herself.

Factors that could be considered by the court would include reckless or illegal use or display of a firearm, acts of violence or threats, abuse of drugs or alcohol, or violation of a protective order. Police would collect the firearms at the time the orders are served on the gun owners.

The measure has been opposed by the National Rifle Association, which argued “these orders would lack due process, contain low evidentiary standards, and fall well below the norm for removing constitutional rights.”

Harvey Gerwig, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association, said the proposed law “is completely against the Constitution,” and will not solve the problem of mass shootings.

“With no crime committed, you lose all your constitutional rights and your property is confiscated,” Gerwig said. “Absolutely unconstitutional.”

“I understand that the legislators feel pressure, that you’ve got to stop this from happening,” he said, referring to mass shootings. “I get that, but the problem is that this type of legislation will do absolutely nothing to stop mass shootings. It will do virtually nothing to stop spousal abuse. If somebody’s going to commit a crime like that, they’re going to go get a gun and they’re going to do it — an illegal gun.”

Gerwig said it would make more sense for lawmakers to take steps to cope with the problem of trafficking in illegal firearms.

If Ige signs SB 1466 into law, the HRA will challenge the new law in court, “and that will be a national challenge, not just Hawaii, because this is being put forth in several other states as well,” he said. “There is no constitutional provision that would ever allow this to happen. (Lawmakers) are just doing it because it’s a one-party system.”

Rhoads said he is “quite confident” the red flag law would be upheld in court, and said 14 other states already have similar laws. “I’d be very surprised if it didn’t withstand a court challenge,” he said….

read … Hawaii gun group aims to sue over ‘red flag’ law

State officials worry low vaccination rates in some Hawaii schools may cause health risk

KITV: … "Folks who say it's their choice. Well, you live in this community, our community and your choice to not be vaccinated impacts the health of everyone around you," Park said.

Nine out of the top 10 schools with the highest percentage of un-vaccinated kids are on neighbor islands.

"There are a lot of schools that opened up in rural areas and in areas where it was most needy, far away from the closest hospital or convenience stores. Those might be contributing factors but we'd really need to look into the data," Sione Thompson, executive director, Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission, said.

To improve vaccination rates and prevent outbreak, Park wants to spread the word through educational resources for parents and the community.

"We need to make sure we can reach out to the community and make sure where we can to offer education, resources and not just for our community but to our healthcare providers to help them to talk to their patients," Park said. …

You can see the full exemption list here.

read … State officials worry low vaccination rates in some Hawaii schools may cause health risk

Maui: Where the Anti-Vaxxers Are

MN: … More than half of Haleakala Waldorf School’s 245-student population is unvaccinated, the highest amount of students at a single school in the state with exemption from vaccines required by the Hawaii Department of Health, according to recently released state data.

In addition, Haleakala Waldorf, with grade and high school campuses in Kula and Makawao, has the highest percentage of exemptions based on enrollment in the state. Out of the 245 students, 129, or 52.7 percent, are claiming exemptions, all of which are attributed to religious reasons, the report said.

Other Maui County public, private and charter schools with notable amounts of unvaccinated kids at single locations were Kihei Charter (76-77 students of 624 total) and Kalama Intermediate (70 of 888 total) schools. High exemption percentages based on enrollment were Roots (41.5 percent of 53 total) and Montessori schools (37.1 percent of 181 total)…. 

SA: Unvaccinated kids pose highest risk of measles at small private and charter schools on neighbor isles

read … Haleakala Waldorf School has highest rate of unvaccinated students in state

Sunscreen Hysteria: Lab Admits Skewing Oxybenzone Measurement

WHT: … Oxybenzone was gauged at 2,947 parts per billion at one sample site, and across the bay the chemical’s concentration was found in amounts 262 times greater than levels considered high-risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“That sample there is the highest we’ve ever measured in the world,” said Craig Downs, executive director of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, which conducted sampling at five different sites in Kahaluu Bay. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted test analysis after results were returned.

Downs conceded numbers were likely higher because that particular sample was taken where most people enter the water on a day characterized by heavy beach traffic. But the testing shows time is of the essence when it comes to sunscreen pollution in West Hawaii, he contended.

“At the rate that we’re seeing Kahaluu die, you’ve got 10 to 15 years before there’s nothing there,” Downs said.

read … Chemophobia

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