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Saturday, December 19, 2015
December 19, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:08 PM :: 3804 Views

A new test on Hawaii’s future?

Latest On The Hawaiians-Only-Oprah/Costco-Everyone-Wins Election

The U.S. Constitution Still Applies to Hawaii

VIDEO: Law & Corruption in Hawaii

TAT Already Applies to TVRs—but DoTax Not Enforcing it

State Quietly Approves Oceanic-Charter Merger

Video: Millennials as Free Market Champions

Hawaii Poorly Prepared to Resist Infectious Disease Outbreak

Wastebook 2015: The Farce Awakens

HECO Overstaffed, Underskilled—1,000 Deadwood Employees Boost your Electric Rates

HNN: …a year after NextEra Energy announced it was buying Hawaii Electric Co. for $4.3 billion, the Florida company's number two executive had some unflattering things to say about the company's management and staff.

"I honestly believe that HECO's culture has to change. It has many good aspects but it is not sufficiently accountable. It's not sufficiently action-oriented and it's not sufficiently swift," said NextEra CFO Moray Dewhurst.

"This company lacks scale, it lacks scope and it lacks a lot of skill."

During a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Wednesday, Dewhurst also talked about potential job cuts. While employees are safe for the first two years of the merger, he said reductions could occur after that in order to achieve savings for customers.

"I think it will need to be reduced in due course," he said.

"The organization as it currently stands for the functions that it performs and delivers has too many people."…

Consumer activist Henry Curtis is predicting mass job losses. Although it's 10 times the size of HECO, he said it's workforce is only has three times as large.

"We came to the conclusion that they were planning to layoff about a thousand people," said Curtis….

MN: Power restored on Maui after widespread outage, many trapped in elevators

read … NextEra's CFO talks

New law: Tax Credits for Alt-Energy Projects to Begin Before the Projects are Built

IM: The Senate passed the House omnibus $1.1 trillion spending bill on December 18, 2015 by a vote of 65-33. The bill funds the government for the 2016 budget year and extends $680 billion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

After extensive lobbying, the tax credits for wind and solar will not only continue but with a positive amendment. Projects will now be required only to have started construction to qualify for tax credits. The old law required the project to be operational to qualify for tax credits.

The bill will promote new solar and wind generation in Hawai`i, but will have little effect on biofuels and geothermal.

The bill provides for 20,000 megawatts of new solar and 19,000 megawatts of new wind facilities throughout the country….

read … A Christmas Gift for Wind and Solar

Ige: State Had trouble getting Truth from Health Exchange

PBN: …The insurers counted 37,800 Hawaii individuals that signed up for Affordable Care Act insurance plans in the Islands either directly with them or through the Connector. But a closer look reveals approximately 46 percent of ACA-covered individuals actually signed up through the Hawaii Health Connector.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only 8,802 of them had paid for their plans as of June.

“We've always had challenges getting accurate numbers from the Connector,” Ige said. “I think that’s one of the reasons the federal government had concerns.”

Approximately $240 million of investment through federal grants had been given to the Hawaii Health Connector, which is now officially absorbed by the state. Anyone with an ACA plan hoping to continue benefits must reenroll through healthcare.gov.

The shutdown happened little earlier than planned, Ige admits.

“It was unexpected,” he told us in a recent interview. “We had worked through a transition plan that we believed was in the best interest of public. We were told emphatically by the feds that they had concerns about the private operator and that they wouldn’t release additional grant money to them.”…

PBN: Year in Review: Hawaii Health Connector

read … Thanks, Obama for your crowning glory, Obamacare!

Treatment of troubled youth better in Hawaii

SA: if the young person is poor, or in trouble with the law, and the appropriate services are not available in Hawaii, a future that could be saved may easily be lost….

Establishing a modern, secure, 24/7 residential treatment center in Hawaii should be a firm priority, even if budget constraints prevent immediate action.

In the meantime, the state does provide a safety net of sorts. For the 2016 fiscal year, the state has contracts with 47 mainland residential treatment facilities, from states including Utah, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Tennessee, Indiana, Montana, Oregon, Arkansas, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

At-risk youth can reach these treatment centers voluntarily through Medicaid, through the courts or the Office of Youth Services.

In the 2015 fiscal year, the state sent 35 youths to mainland residential treatment facilities; in 2013, the number was just 5. Ideally, the number should be 0….

read … Treatment of troubled youth better at home

Should Hawaii caregivers receive training in-hospital?

PBN: CARE Act legislation failed during Hawaii’s 2015 legislative session, but another bill is likely to surface in January.

Critics of the CARE Act — many of whom are hospital executives — say a lengthier discharge planning process for both outpatients and inpatients would be costly and would delay the discharge process.

“We’re at capacity, so when you have over-regulation, it really clogs up the hospital,” said Paula Yoshioka, executive vice president of corporate development at The Queen's Medical Center. “Every patient is different, and I think that’s what the bill misses.”

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii estimates a CARE Act mandate would cost Hawaii hospitals an additional $23 million.

Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawaii, says existing federal regulations require hospitals to explain after-hospital care to patients, and the inclusion of caregivers “should not add significant additional costs.” …

The state House committee on health has held informational briefings over the past couple of weeks to come up with a recommendation for the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-Makiki-Manoa, told PBN the committee has discussed a variety of options. The committee is considering the CARE Act but also pondering the value in funding "Kupuna Care" initiatives or Hawaii Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Some insurance plans actually cover caregiver assistance and training within the hospital, she said.

“The committee is going to include a range of recommendations based upon all of the topics that were covered in the months-long series of informational briefings,” she said. “We’ve covered a lot of ground through the briefings, such as immediate transition care in hospitals, transition care in communities, insurance coverage, or family caregiver notification and training.”

According to a 2014 report by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, Hawaii was among the eight states with the highest proportion of hospitals with lower-than-average rates of readmission.

Increasing readmission rates across the nation is what prompted CMS to introduce a proposed rule that would impose similar CARE Act mandates on hospitals and other kinds of facilities. If finalized, it’ll be a national "game changer," Belatti said, and could duplicate any future state law on the topic.

read … $23M?

Gun permit applicants denied over medical dispute

HNN: …A former service member tells us he's followed all of HPD's rules, but he's stuck in a policy deadlock because his insurer won't comply.

"There was no advance warning from anybody. Kaiser, the gun stores, HPD -- nobody. You find out when you actually go to apply," the West O'ahu man said. He asked Hawaii News Now not use his name or image.

"I've been a legal gun owner since '91. Rifles, shotguns, pistols. I even own an AR-15. No problemo. All of a sudden, problem," he said.

HPD officers are now handing out a memo to gun permit applicants that states a doctor must sign a note on official letterhead stating the individual "shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition and has been medically documented to be no longer adversely affected by the addiction, abuse, dependence, mental disease, disorder or defect".

"It's some kind of new legal mumbo jumbo about I have to admit that I was treated for mental or drug abuse which I have never done, so that would be a lie. Kaiser says they won't do it so you have to seek an outside doctor. I did so, and they did not accept that doctor's letter," he said.

HPD provided Hawaii News Now with the following statement: "The gun permit process requires a letter from a medical provider stating whether the provider has records relating to the applicant's mental health history or treatment. About a year ago, certain providers stopped sending such a letter and instead sent the applicant's complete medical records to HPD."

Applicants say it appears HPD does not want to review those files and make a determination on their own. …

CB: Gun Laws Are Being Reformed, Just Not On Capitol Hill

read … Gun Permits

OCCC Overcrowded, Fobs Prisoners off on Feds

HNN: The main buildings at OCCC in Kalihi were built in 1975, meant for a capacity of 628 inmates. But almost since it opened, it has been overcrowded….

Friday, there were 1,164 inmates at OCCC, officials said, about 200 over its official capacity of 980….

In some modules, three inmates sleep in small cells with two bunk beds, a sink and a toilet. A third inmate has to sleep on the floor….

Asked to identify the facility’s biggest problem, Johnston said, “overcrowding,” which she said has been an issue for her entire 31-year career at OCCC.

To alleviate overcrowding, OCCC rents extra space from the federal government, sending groups of 25 to 40 inmates to the Federal Detention Center near the airport once or twice a week….

Reporters were shown OCCC’s Annex One, from which inmate Daniel Skelton escaped in June of 2014 by climbing through a hole in the ceiling over the showers. Since that embarrassing escape, prison work crews have completely reinforced the ceilings. Skelton was re-captured a few days after his escape.

Also on display Friday in Annex One: Star Wars-themed holiday decorations that tied for first-place in a contest. Many of the decorations were made from recycled boxes, paper and other used materials. The winning inmates received pizzas as their prize, part of an effort to keep inmates active, even in overcrowded conditions.

"You know with the decorations and the classes and recreation, so that they don't have to be in-cell as much as possible," Johnston said.

The overcrowding at OCCC gets worse on the weekends. That's because there are some people who serve weekends-only sentences and other detainees who are awaiting court appearances on Monday.

Prison officials are also grappling with overcrowding at Halawa Prison.

read … Overcrowding

Military tops isle spending gains

SA: The deal approved Friday sets aside more than $469 million for military construction and infrastructure projects on the islands. That’s an increase of more than $200 million from last year….

The legislation includes more than $250 million for health clinics at Schofield Barracks and the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay. It also includes $30.6 million to change the electrical grid at Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility….

The bill permanently extends some tax credits that could help 52,000 Hawaii families with more than 100,000 children, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement. It also extends for five years tax credits for people who install solar panels on their homes, Schatz said.

Hirono was disappointed in the repeal of the four-decade ban on exports of U.S. crude oil, which was an add-on to the budget bill….

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she’s concerned about a portion of the bill that deals with cybersecurity. “While it attempts to improve our ability to address and prevent cyberattacks, there are loopholes within the language that may allow for the government to undermine the privacy and civil liberties of Americans,” Gabbard said in a statement.

The bill provides funds for the National Park Service to begin creating the new Honouliuli National Monument, which aims to tell the history of internment and martial law in Hawaii during World War II.

It also includes $250 million in funding for the Honolulu rail transit project.

Health care and education programs for Native Hawaiians will get $64 million. The East-West Center, which promotes relationships between the United States, Asia and Pacific nations, will get $16.7 million.

State Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, said she hopes state officials in charge of using federal money don’t leave anything on the table.

read … Your Tax Dollars at Work

Obama Returns Again

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