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Friday, November 28, 2014
November 28, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:01 PM :: 3395 Views

Dawn Ige Addresses Education Conference

Hawaii Health Connector Seeks out Immigrants: Need 130,000 Just to Break Even

SA: The Connector employees are down to 34....we still need to raise additional money to get through fiscal 2015....If there is a commitment on the part of our government and our community to support the Connector, then we think we can raise the money....We’ve helped over 40,000 people in Hawaii get access to Medicaid...  (Yep.  They linked 40,000 people to DHS and DHS signed them up for Medicaid.  Congratulations, Hawaii, you just paid $205M for a link on a webpage.)

The Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974 was the model that the nation should have adopted, and we wouldn’t need the Affordable Care Act. That (1974) act requires employers to provide a certain level of insurance coverage, not just in terms of the coverage, but also the lower deductibles and co-payments for every working person. That allowed Hawaii to develop one of the finest health care systems in the United States.

On a preliminary basis — I emphasize that this is very preliminary work — we have seen an indication that it looks like we can break even in about 2018-2019 and start to throw off a surplus in 2020. But I’m not going to ask anybody to take that on faith. We have to demonstrate that with hard facts.

Q: Can you say broadly how that is possible?

A: We need 130,000 insured individuals, whether they’re members of the business community or insured individual on a single basis, to break even … on an annual basis. We need about 150,000 to start to throw off enough cash to build the reserves we need to continue to do the work we need to do in the community....

it’s not just the Micronesians who come here; it’s any lawful resident who is entitled to medical benefits here. If they qualify for subsidy under the federal plan, then the federal government is helping cover their medical cost, instead of the community....

(Note: Federal dollars aren't 'community'.  And you don't pay federal taxes.  Really.)

read ... They need more customers than there are uninsured

Bad Bureaucracy the Norm?  Convergence of Government Blunders

SA: Sometimes, the convergence of government blunders is so startling that it cannot pass unrebuked. So it was recently, when side-by-side news stories on one day revealed how "the system" is failing its citizens, from ongoing Handi-Van snafus to a mishandled negligent-homicide case, to an accused child-assaulting teacher being cleared to teach here. Add in yet-another bungled mailing of Medicaid-Quest notices to beneficiaries — and the clarion call must be sounded for improvements, accountability and consequences. Bad bureaucracy cannot become the norm, enabled by apathy.

That's a fundamental message for all tiers in government — but one particularly worth emphasizing now, as the state administration comes under new management Monday with the swearing-in of a new governor, David Ige....

Government is a major industry in Hawaii, with about 1 in 5 here employed as a public worker. But big is better only if it is responsive and does well by the people it is supposed to serve. Lately, it seems, there's plenty of room for improvement.

read ... City, state must perform better

Ige's challenges include uniting feuding Democrats

Borreca: "As busy as he was, David stopped to text me, ‘Thank you for your efforts to balance the party,'" Ohigashi recalls....

"He has got to bring the Democrats together. There is a divide in the party. There are the very liberal guys compared to the more moderate ones. There is a divide between the elected officials and the party leaders who have never been elected, but want to tell us what to do," said one state Senate Democratic leader, who agreed to talk anonymously about the party problems.

Long-time Maui House Democrat, Speaker Joe Souki, added that Ige will soon face a fractured political party.

"This will be a challenge for him. The party right now is basically progressive, but the chair (Ohigashi) is moderate. Ige is more a moderate to conservative," said Souki in an interview.

Last year the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus of the state Democratic Party filed charges against Democratic legislators who sponsored proposals to define marriage as between a man and woman.

read ... Party out of Balance

Feds Investigate Fraud at Hawaii Public Housing

HNN: A federal and state crackdown has prompted increased evictions from public housing projects across the state, with more on the way.

The Inspector General's office from the U.S. Housing Department has been investigating tenants at federal housing projects on Oahu for the past several months, sources said.  Federal agents have been interviewing tenants and checking their backgrounds, tenants said. That federal probe along with the state's own investigations have been getting results.

"We believe that each property has a certain amount of fraud happening and it's truly difficult for us to know until we actually do an investigation," said Hawaii Public Housing Authority Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi.

Ouansafi won't confirm or deny the federal probe. He said his own state investigators are cracking down on whether tenants are lying about their household income to qualify for public housing or covering up felony or sex offender criminal backgrounds that would get them thrown out. Others try to hide assets such as bank and investments accounts, Ouansafi said.

Sources said the feds are using FBI and IRS agents who could bring federal criminal charges against fraudulent tenants at 5,500 federal housing units across the state.

"Not only people might lose their housing, but they maybe end up in jail. It's a matter that we take very seriously," Ouansafi said.

Ouansafi said dozens of tenants have been evicted statewide in the last several months, roughly twice as many as last fall. Another six or evictions are still ongoing, he said.

read ... Evictions

Ex-OHA Trustee Backs Fake Indian Tribe

ICT: ...the November 1 symposium included experts on federal Indian law, federal recognition, and international law. Most notable among them were attorney Robert Williams, Jr. and James Anaya, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples. The purpose of the panel discussions was to consider “pathways to and outcomes of international and federal recognition.”

I spoke with Poke Laenui, long time sovereignty activist and legal expert on Hawaiian independence, and past Kamau a Ea presenter....

DGW: Anaya clearly stated in his presentation that any domestic remedy would not necessarily undermine any international claims so long as those rights or claims are not waived, or if the federal government has not settled claims. And Williams provided a powerful example of how rights and powers can be negotiated. Williams was especially adamant that any Hawaiian government entity not allow the United States to extinguish their rights.

PL: I believe that the last symposium essentially turned the corner around the "or" dichotomy and pushed our people to the "and" inclusive option; i.e., we need no longer divide ourselves between the "integration" (Federal Recognition) option OR the "independent nation" option. There is an AND alternative in which we can unite our people around both working within the colonial system while maintaining our struggle for national independence from the U.S. Listening closely to what was said on Saturday, this was very clear to me.

DGW: I'm wondering what you think about the significance of OHA conducting these symposiums on Hawaiian sovereignty? I understand the distrust many Hawaiians have for OHA as a state agency. But it seems to me they have brought out many of the heavy hitters in the sovereignty movement (those who favor independence), giving an appearance of balanced perspectives, or at least the willingness not to foreclose on independence as a possibility. Is this significant to you?

PL: OHA as a State Agency? I don't agree. OHA Trustees and others may use this as an excuse for why OHA should act in one or another way, but if you mean a State Agency as if it needs to tow the line of the State Policy, the Governor's direction, the Legislature's direction, or even the U.S. Federal policy, that is not the case. OHA has the capacity to be autonomous from all of these other "controls." The only thing that controls the trustees is their perception of control and their fear of freedom. This last sovereignty symposium is just the latest in a series of symposiums which OHA has conducted recently. They are now at the furthest position they have so far taken toward looking at Independence....

read ... Indian Country Legal Experts Help Untangle Sovereignty in Hawaii

Price of Schatz' Carbon Tax? $311M per Year for Hawaii

PBN: Schatz last week made another legislative move with far more direct implications for Hawaii. He, along with Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, introduced a bill to impose a $42-per-ton fee on the carbon output of any business that emits 25,000 tons, or more, of carbon dioxide per year....

Electrical power generation in Hawaii as of 2011 (the most recent figure available at the EIA) emits about 7.4 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. Schatz's proposed carbon "fee" on that amount would total $311 million. That most certainly would be passed on to ratepayers — individuals and businesses alike — who already pay the highest electricity prices in the U.S. The fee goes up annually. Over 10 years, the fee would extract from the economy $2 trillion nationwide.

Most sin taxes are levied on truly optional behaviors, like drinking or smoking. Until we have a realistic utility-scale alternative to fossil fuels, they are anything but optional.

read ... Price of Schatz

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