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Friday, June 29, 2012
June 29, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:44 PM :: 15034 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Duke Aiona to Speak at Rally for Religious Freedom

Obamacare Will Add 84,130 to Hawaii's Bankrupt Medicaid System

Police Disperse Angry Crowd After Yoshioka Speaks to Kapolei Neighborhood Board

New Rail Financial Plan Boosts Operating Cost to $6 Billion, Delays Opening

Lingle: Obamacare Decision Puts Healthcare in Hands of Next Congress

Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act

Trashing Tricare: Obama Threatens Veto After House Refuses to Raise Fees

Case: Stop 'Gladiatorial Circus' and Implement Obamacare

Hirono: Obamacare Gives $28.7M to Community Health Clinics

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Challenge to Native Hawaiian Property Tax Exemptions

Star-Adv Tries to Talk Down Christian Voter Registration Drive

Borreca: After losing several major races in the last two years, Hawaii's politically active religious community hopes to slip back into gear with a rally tomorrow at the state Capitol.

Billed as the "Rally for Religious Liberty," the afternoon event is co-sponsored by the Hawaii Family Forum, Hawaii Family Advocates and the Hawaii Catholic Conference…. (Skip multiple paragraphs highlighting every stupid statement ever made by a Christian in Hawaii, a treatment not given to the pay-for-play crowd.)

Coupled with the rally is a voter registration. The Family Forum has been the most politically active of the Hawaii faith-based community organizations, but has stayed away from outright candidate endorsements.

Instead, the forum distributes a candidate information pamphlet showing candidates' stands on various issues.

With the election season about to kick into high gear, the forum is starting late and will need much more organization if it is going to have an impact in the November elections.

(The Gay-Atheist Advertiser never says this about the gay-atheists.  It is easier to pitch doom and gloom than it is to openly oppose.)

Know Your Enemy: Star-Bulletin comes out against voter registration drive

read … Effort to Confuse and Demoralize

Senate Confirms Pollack and Cahill Judicial Nominations

HR: Senators voted unanimously to confirm Pollack, 61, who served as state Public Defender before becoming an Oahu Circuit Court judge in 2000….

The Senate also confirmed the nomination of attorney Peter Cahill to serve as Circuit Court judge on Maui.

Related: Pollack: Abercrombie's Hawaii Supreme Court Pick Will Give Even More to Cultural Practitioners, Enviros

read … Leftist

Will Prepaid be Affected?

HTH: “There is confusion in Hawaii as to whether the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act will be affected by this ruling.” Cook’s uncertainty reflected widespread unease among the business community about how the law will affect them.

“I think right now we’re just trying to research it and find out what’s going on,” Cook said.

“It’s hard to say this early” what effects the law will have, said the manager of a Hilo pharmacy who is not authorized to speak to the media. “It’s extremely complicated business.”

“From the looks of it, it’s going to be good on one level, but it’s going to be challenging on the others,” said Howard Ainsley, CEO of the East Hawaii Region, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. As a practical example, he said that there will be issues with the limited number of health care providers. What happens when nearly everybody on the Big Island has health insurance, but the number of physicians doesn’t rise fast enough to keep up with demand?

Hilo Medical Center takes a broader approach, Ainsley said, by encouraging individuals to reduce health care costs by living healthy lifestyles.

“We need to be more accountable for our health and wellness,” he said.

read … Prepaid?

20,000 Will Be Kicked off Private Insurance, Forced to Accept Medicaid

SA: Hawaii officials credit that to the state's landmark 1974 Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires employers to provide health care coverage to employees who work at least 20 hours per week.

"We got a head start on this in many ways, in the business community, through the Prepaid Health Care Act," said Jim Tollefson, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. "We see this ACA as really strengthening that and providing greater coverage."

Though Giesting said she had read estimates that initially there may be a small increase in premiums, Abercrombie took a wait-and-see approach. But both agreed the long-term effect of better health coverage and care would have a greater impact on keeping costs down.

"The healthier the population — the more the population is insured — the more likely they are to get the proper health care, especially on the preventive side," Abercrombie said. "Then business, in terms of its obligations and responsibilities, vis a vis insurance for employees, is going to benefit.

"We think it's going to benefit on a broad basis and we think it's going to benefit relatively quickly."

Perhaps the biggest change for states might be in Medicaid. Justices ruled the federal government can expand the program granted it does not threaten states' entire Medicaid allotment if the states refuse to take part. That means some states looking to cut costs might choose to not expand coverage, with less worry than before.

Hawaii is not pulling back, said Pat McManaman, state human services director. Starting next month, Hawaii's eligibility requirements for Medicaid will be in line with federal guidelines under the overhaul, meaning an additional 24,000 people who weren't previously insured will be newly eligible for Medicaid.

McManaman said 24,000 others are expected to enroll in the program for the first time even though they were previously eligible, and 20,000 will change to Medicaid from other providers. (I wonder which unions will allow employers to cancel their members’ insurance in favor of free Medicaid.)

CB: Health Care Ruling Could Hurt Hawaii GOP

CB: Supreme Court Decision Could Patch Hawaii Health Care Cracks

read … 20,000 will change from Private Insurance to Medicaid

SA: State Must Boost Medicaid Spending to Prepare for Obamacare  

SA: Hawaii health planners studied actuarial tables when the ACA passed two years ago; they estimated that 48,000 new enrollees will join the Medicaid rolls when the expansion takes place in 2014, said Pat McManaman, director of the Department of Human Services. About half of those would have qualified under the old rules anyway, she said. The remaining newly eligible beneficiaries will represent an additional cost once the state has to pick up part of the tab, starting in 2017.

But the state share for those people ultimately will cap at 10 percent, and officials should start planning for budgets to accommodate them.

A great deal of work remains ahead in health care reform. It remains to be seen how much Medicaid will grow, given that the court will allow states to opt out of the expansion without penalty, and how that may change the fiscal outlook.

Totally Related: Obamacare Will Add 84,130 to Hawaii's Bankrupt Medicaid System, After Threatening Hospital Sustainability Fee With Veto, Abercrombie Signs LTC Bill

read … 'Obamacare' ruling a relief

Obamacare: 13,000 Will be Made to Depend on Maui Free Clinic

MN: The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act came as good news Thursday for patients and health care workers at the Malama I Ke Ola Health Center in Wailuku.

"The bottom line is it's going to allow health centers such as ours to expand access to cost-effective and affordable health care," said center Executive Director Dana Alonzo-Howeth….

In May, the Wailuku health center received $4.6 million as part of $10 million awarded to three Hawaii health centers under the Affordable Care Act, the president's health reform measure. The other centers were the West Hawaii Community Health Center in Kailua-Kona, $5 million; and the Bay Clinic in Hilo, $500,000.

Nationwide, the health care law provides $9.5 billion to expand services at community health centers over five years. It also sets aside $1.5 billion to support major construction and renovation projects at the centers.

A 2010 news release announcing a $25,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation indicated that the clinic was serving about 8,000 clients annually.

Alonzo-Howeth estimated that the funding and expansion would allow the health center to serve an additional 5,000 people over a few years and perhaps double that amount if more funding becomes available.

read … about where you will be getting medical care

DoE Ignores Plan to Keep Adult Schools Open With no DoE Operating Funds

SA: An institution of lifelong learning is about to disappear from East Honolulu, and the proposed fix is being thwarted….

Since the staff and administration strongly believe that these cuts in services will impact the community in negative ways, a carefully thought-out plan was conceptualized to save the school and preserve the services.

A unique selling point: Because student surveys show that a majority are willing to pay higher tuition to continue enrollment in these classes, especially since tuition has not been increased for more than 20 years, the school generated a self-sustainable plan that can support its existence with no DOE funds. Local legislators were contacted and saw the immediate viability and value of this plan.

What's puzzling is that the school's innovative proposal for self-sufficiency has encountered barriers for its immediate implementation from the state Department of Education and Board of Education. To date, there has been no other organized alternative presented by the DOE/BOE to create adult education schools without dependence on DOE funds….

With June 30 fast approaching, many of us are baffled by the DOE and BOE's inaction on this issue. We have detailed the solution for them in a 100-page plan.

read … Support plan that would continue adult education in Kaimuki

Abercrombie Signs Bill Killing Jr Kindergarten, Funds Will be Used to Hire Bureaucrats, Do Study

SA: Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, students will have to be at least 5 years old on July 31 to enter kindergarten.

The Legislature also made a $300,000 appropriation to the executive Office of Early Learning, whose task it will be to draft a plan for ensuring a "seamless transition from the junior kindergarten program to the keiki first steps program"in 2014-15.

Among the big questions is how much setting up a preschool network will cost, something the governor and Lock said will have to be studied in the coming months.

Legislators have said junior kindergarten costs the state about $30 million a year, and that those funds could go instead to preschool programs.

But getting that money isn't expected to be easy. The Department of Education is likely to argue that, in actuality, junior kindergarten was an unfunded mandate, covered under schools' existing budgets.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said details of cost and implementation will have to be worked out quickly. In two years, when junior kindergarten is ended, "we have to be ready to go,"she said.

In 2010, legislators approved phasing out junior kindergarten next year. The new measure, delaying the end of the program, was designed to give the state more time to create a statewide early-learning system.

read … Your DoE at Work

More Delays: Rail Won’t Open ‘til 2016

SA: The city Thursday released details of its formal application for $1.55 billion in federal funding for the Honolulu rail line, the submittal of which rail advocates described as one of the most significant milestones yet for the controversial project.

The application for federal funding submitted Thursday shows the city has again delayed the opening date for the first stretch of the new rail line, with the initial segment from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium now expected to open in mid-2016. Last year, the city predicted that first segment would open in late 2015.

At one time, the city planned to open the first portion of the elevated train system as early as 2012, but that was put off because of delays in completing the environmental impact statement for rail and other issues that arose.

The application for federal funding submitted to the Federal Transit Administration includes a new financial plan that shows the overall cost has declined slightly.

However, the financial plan also shows taxpayer subsidies to operate Hono­lulu's transit network including TheBus, rail and TheHandi-Van will be larger in the years ahead than the city previously predicted, in part because of the extra cost of subsidizing the new rail system.

The financial plan predicts the overall cost of the 20-mile rail line including financing will be $5.16 billion, which is slightly less than the city estimated in the financial plan prepared for the project last year.

That price tag excludes about $100 million the city spent on planning and design activities that aren't counted in the official rail financial plan, which means the total price for the 20-mile rail line works out to about $5.26 billion.

The cost to buy the train cars and build the guideway, stations and other rail facilities will be about $70 million more than the city estimated last fall. The city expects to offset that expense by saving about $80 million in reduced borrowing costs because of low market interest rates.

KHON: HART says it expects to know about the status of federal funds for the project as soon as early November.

read … Moving the slush around

Yoshioka Plans to Stick With Bus Cuts

SA: A change in city bus routes is leading some riders to switch to driving their cars and overloading buses on some routes to the point where they have to bypass people at bus stops, residents said Thursday.

Residents also criticized the elimination of express route B to and from Waikiki and terminating express route E downtown rather than in Waikiki.

Ewa Beach resident Earlaina Samson said shortening route E is forcing people in her community to have to transfer to other buses with commutes as long as two hours to get to their jobs in Waikiki.

City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka told the committee he is sticking to his decision to trim services to meet his department's share of budget reductions.

read … Bus Cuts

Historic Hawaii Foundation Watching Rail Compliance

Q: What about that proposal to put solar panels on the old runway at Ford Island, which some people oppose?

A: We are participating in the consultation with the Navy on that project. Right now the runway is being preserved. It’s open space. There’s no buildings on it. They mow the grass, but it’s not being used. So the discussion has been: Should it be restored as it was in 1941 or should it be rehabilitated for a contemporary use such as for a solar array? The discussions have been whether or not that contemporary use of alternative energy can be designed in a way that respects the history and reflects the character of historic Ford Island.

Q: What about rail? Is your group concerned about disturbing the iwi (buried ancestral bones), or affecting any historic homes or buildings along the route, or any issues such as that?

A: Yes (Laughter). The rail project is being partially federally funded, and also is partially located on federal property as well, and as a federal action, it is required to go through an historic review process and compliance. So through that process of environmental review and historic preservation review, the federal agency consults with organizations and individuals who have an interest in historic preservation. So Historic Hawai‘i Foundation was part of that consultation process, and we engaged with the Federal Transit Administration and the city throughout.

It started with identifying what are the historic properties along this route, what would the impact be on them, what are ways to avoid that impact, and in the cases where it can’t be avoided, how can it be mitigated.

So all of that resulted in a programmatic agreement that sets out all those issues. Now that the programmatic agreement has been executed and the project is moving, we’re involved in ensuring that the FTA and the city are complying with that.

read … compliance

Fire EMS Merger Promoted by Report Produced by Consultant tied to Assoc of Fire Chiefs

CB: …Caldwell says in the "Safety First" section that a merger — which he says began during his time as the city's managing director — needs to be moved forward and "makes critical sense." But some leaders and paramedics who would be impacted by a merger are incensed at the suggestion that their services are lacking.

"What training does the Fire Department do that relates to EMS? They don't have a permanent training program," said paramedic Theresa McGregor.

HFD trains its firefighters at a national standard level, but not at the considerably higher state threshold required for EMTs and paramedics to work on an ambulance in Hawaii. Medics with advanced life support training can insert breathing tubes, administer medications in the field and perform other interventions that EMTs with less training cannot.

McGregor also said the two departments have the exact same oxygen tanks, oxygen masks, breathing assistance tools and backboards.

"So I don't understand what equipment they're talking about," she said. "If you're talking about ambulances, our ambulances are top of the line. They're awesome."

McGregor and ESD supervisors Laurie Grace and David Mower explained in an interview with Civil Beat that they believe the merger is poorly thought out and politically motivated. They called it "cloak and dagger" stuff and a "hostile takeover." Careful to say the working relationship with firefighters in the field remains strong, all three said they think HFD leadership wants to take on more responsibilities so it can maintain or grow its annual budget.

In particular, they said a report prepared last summer for HFD by a merger-friendly consultant connected to the International Association of Fire Chiefs is full of holes when it comes to specifics about how operations might be coordinated and what the impact would be for public safety. A full merger of the two departments would also include the Ocean Safety program under the ESD heading, though much of the debate has centered on EMS

read … Politics Puts Fire-EMS Merge On Front Burner

Fast and Furious: Hawaii Delegation Supports Contemptible Holder

PR: Although both of Hawaii’s Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives derided Thursday’s vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress as a political stunt, they split on how to demonstrate their objection to the process.

Holder became the first sitting Cabinet member held in contempt of Congress. The rebuke was pushed by Republicans seeking more information on a bungled gun-tracking operation known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

The vote was 255-67, with more than 100 Democrats boycotting.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono chose to stay on the floor to vote against the resolution, while her colleague, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa joined more than 100 other House members who walked off the chamber floor in protest.

read … More Automatic Weapons for Drug Gangs

500 Foreclosures Pending in Big Island Courts

WHT: Hawaii Island has more than 500 foreclosures pending in the 3rd Circuit Court, appraisers say.

Compare that figure with the 1,289 active real estate listings the county has, appraiser Larry Baird said.

“It’s almost 50 percent of the inventory,” Baird said. “That would be a tremendous amount to absorb.”

read … Wheels Came off

The split’s impact on A&B Foundation

PBN: As Alexander and Baldwin Inc. and Matson Navigation Co. prepare to split into two, publicly traded companies, officials with both businesses are planning how they will structure their corporate philanthropy to a wide range of causes and charities.

A&B officials said they expect to have more information in the near future about their plans for their foundation and its philanthropy, and they anticipate adjusting the amount the company usually gives, which historically has been as much as 2 percent of its pre-tax income. And Matson officials said they want to have their foundation with a director established sometime in September. Both A&B and Matson indicated that they plan to continue to focus their philanthropy efforts on Hawaii.

read … A&B Influence

HTLA: Mufi out, Szigeti In

Since 1997, Szigeti has been president and CEO of Better Brands Ltd., a subsidiary of Young's Market Co., which is among the nation's largest wholesalers and distributors of beer, wine and spirits.

"As someone whose business has benefited tremendously from travel and tourism, I welcome this opportunity to return that support by offering my knowledge, dedication and commitment to tourism through the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association," Szigeti said in a statement.

In addition to service on the HLTA board, he is a past president of the Hawaii Food Industry Association and board member of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, and has served in leadership roles in other industry organizations as well.

read … Bye bye Mufi

Environmentalists knock EPA's OK of plan to sink Navy ships

SA: The vessels Kilauea, Niagara Falls and Concord are scheduled to be sunk as part of target practice during RIMPAC, while the Coronado will be deep-sixed during the exercise Valiant Shield later this year, according to a coalition of environmental groups.

Several decommissioned ships are sunk every two years off Hawaii during RIMPACwith missiles, guns, bombs and torpedoes, in target practice that takes place at least 57 miles from land and in waters at least 6,000 feet deep, the Navy said.

The environmental groups Basel Action Network, Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Center for Biological Diversity jointly condemned the Navy's ship-sinking exercises, which the Navy has dubbed "SINKEX."

read … Next they will try to cleanse the ocean of salt

Occupy Protesters Busted for Stealing Bulky Trash

SA: The law, in effect since December, states that any items left on the sidewalk 24 hours after tagged for removal will be seized; owners can pick up their possessions at a later date.

Protester H. Doug Ma­tsu­oka said untagged items inside the tents were taken for the first time, and newly purchased tents that had been placed on the sidewalk the night before the removal were packed up as well.

In the beginning of the video, an official can be seen notifying the videographer of section 9-1.6 of the Revised Ordinances of Ho­no­lulu, which states that it is illegal for people to remove bulky trash items that have been set out on sidewalks for scheduled pickup.

Both Brannon and Matsu­oka said the most recent removal had nothing to do with the bulky trash law.

But, but, but: Occupy Beats Law by Moving Junk Around when Tagged, ‘finding’ stuff curbside

read … Garbage to the Dump

Alleged Drunken Punatic Blogger Sues Police

HTH: Waiamau wrote in his report that Tucker “repeatedly refused to stop physically pushing himself between officers while they were engaged in interviewing witnesses and suspects, and appeared to be very intoxicated.” He stated that Tucker “shoved his camera into the faces of victims at the scene while they were being interviewed, and propelled them to become irate.” Waiamau also wrote that Tucker represented himself as a member of the media, but “was unable to produce proper media credentials” and “became combative and was subsequently arrested.”

read … all about Damon Tucker

Maui Medicated Dope Dealer had 1200 ‘Patients’

MN: In court Thursday, Murphy brought a small portion of his 1,200 patients files.

Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro said that Dunn's presentation was "all side show on what the law says." Basically, Murphy was selling marijuana in violation of the law.

She said that the law was set up to prevent the establishment of "marijuana dispensaries." The law envisioned allowing a caregiver to administer marijuana to the patient, and Murphy was not a caregiver, Coccaro said.

"He was a dispensary. He was making money. People did not request him as their caregiver to hold their marijuana," she said.

Dunn told the court that under the law, a person can only be a caregiver for one patient. He acknowledged that Murphy was not a "caregiver" for all 1,200 patients.

read … just a dope dealer

Ritte, Protesters Work to Shake Down Monsanto

KHON: "They're not really farmers, they're chemical companies acting like farmers, poisoning our lands," said Walter Ritte (a shakedown artist pretending to be a protester) with "Label it Hawaii".

These protesters are against GMO's, which are biotech crops or plants. Monsanto Vice President Fred Perlak says GMO's are tools that farmers can use to increase their efficiency and productivity, which is something they support. So why don't they label GMO products, like the protesters want?

"Federal Drug Administration specifies that labels are for nutritional characteristics and safety. Biotech crops have been tested, shown to be safe, therefore they are not a safety concern," Perlak said.

read … Just a shake down

 

A&B: “Entitled land in a great place with high barriers to entry is good”


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