Health bills set to cross chambers next week – State of Reform

Hawaii lawmakers are scrambling to pass dozens of health care bills ahead of the first April 7 cross-filing deadline. Recent moves in the legislature have included bills dealing with telehealth, drug addiction and rural health workers.

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Health insurance coverage and reimbursement

Several bills have been referred to the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Homelessness (HHH) requesting assessments from the state auditor. For example, they would measure the social and financial impacts of mandatory health insurance coverage for reproductive health measures such as abortion and early access to breast cancer screening.

another bill would have the state auditor assess the Hawaii Information Portal, the state payroll system for the Department of Health, and Hawaii State Hospital.

State Auditor Leslie Kondo expressed concerns during hearings on the bill about his office’s ability to conduct the assessments if all the measures were passed.

“My request is that if the committee is considering passing any of these resolutions, that they prioritize those that are most important to the committee and take into account the limited resources available to my office.”

The bills eventually received a favorable report from the committee.

Health Equity

The HHH committee also considered House Resolution 89, which would require the Department of Health to make the Pacific Islander Outreach Team 6B permanent. At the start of the pandemic, Pacific Islanders disproportionately represented 25% of COVID cases in the state, despite making up only 4% of the population.

The 6B team has played a key role in providing culturally competent public health services sensitization specifically for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities since October 2020.

“Commitment has to be in the language,” said Team 6B creator Chantelle Matagi in her testimonial. “If our communities do not understand what is being said to them, how can we expect them to cooperate or make decisions that are appropriate for them or their health needs? »

This bill was unanimously rejected by the committee and was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs.

Personal health

In the Senate, the Health Committee recommended a invoice that would establish the rural health task force within the Ministry of Health. The task force would “develop solutions and make recommendations on the recruitment and retention of registered nurses in rural Maui, Molokai and Lanai.” The task force would report its findings and recommendations to the Legislative Assembly prior to the next session.

Members of the task force would include public health nursing supervisors from each of the designated regions and representatives from the following federally licensed health care centers: Hana Health, Molokai General Hospital, Lanai Community Health Center, Malama I Ke Ola Health Center and Molokai Community Health Center. .

On Friday, the bill also received unanimous recommendations from the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Substance use disorder treatment services

Senate Resolution 206 SD 1 would ask the Department of Health to restore funding in fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24 to substance use disorder treatment organizations that serve residential, outpatient and school-based programs for adolescents. These services include case management, crisis stabilization and referral to providers.

Due to the funding cuts experienced by the department during the pandemic, several organizations testified to having had to refuse patients to their services.

“We call on the Department of Health to support evidence-based practices to pay for unpaid services that have been authorized, to restore funding that has been cut for the treatment adults and adolescents need,” he said. said Alan Johnson, CEO of Hina Mauka. , during the hearing on the bill on Monday.

The bill was first referred to the Senate Health Committee and passed unanimously with minor technical changes. It was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

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