Senate Committees Hold a Hearing for a Bill Supporting Kupuna

The Hawaii Senate Committees on Human Services, Health, and Commerce and Consumer Protection held a hearing on January 30, 2014 on Senate Bill 2228, a bill that would support the elderly in our communities. The measure would address the need for new executive-level positions and provide funding for programs that maintain the health of our kupuna. Various state and county agencies, advocacy groups and individual citizens testified in support.

Proposed by the Kupuna Caucus, the bill complements the priorities of the Joint Majority Package as well as the goals in the Governor’s State of the State Address. As our aging population grows, we must continue to support the health and well-being of our elderly.

The committees recommended that the bill be passed with amendments addressing some of the concerns of those who testified. The bill awaits a committee report, after which another hearing will be held on the revised bill.

Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, chairwoman of Senate Human Services Committee, reviewing written testimony for SB 2228 on January 30, 2014.

Safe Places for Youth Mini Conferences Held at State Capitol

(Children and youth advocates gather at the State Capitol for the Safe Places for Youth Mini Conference.)

Honolulu- One hundred and fifty children and youth advocates gathered at the State Capitol today to attend a Safe Places for Youth Mini Conference. The conference provided an opportunity for members of the community to discuss the concept of the State’s “Safe Places for Youth” initiative and receive community outreach and training.

Children, youth, and community advocates identified the provision of “Safe Places for Youth” as a top priority during the 2012 Children and Youth Submit.  As a result, Hawaii is embarking on an initiative designed to provide a network of safe places statewide where children and youth can seek help in a timely and supportive manner.

Today’s conference provided a great opportunity for members of our community to continue to discuss and build on our efforts to develop a network of places where youth can access safety and services,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, Co-Convener of the Keiki Caucus. “Protecting our youth from vulnerable situations, whether at home, school, or on the streets, is a top priority. Safe Places would give our youth a secure location to turn to when they need it most.”

Senate Bill (SB) 391 and House Bill (HB) 395, relating to youth, were two measures introduced during the 2013 Legislative Session to help establish safe places for youth.

SB 391 requires the office of youth services to coordinate a two-year safe places for youth pilot program to establish a network of safe places where youth can access safety and services. It also establishes the position of safe places for youth program coordinator.

HB 395 requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program to coordinate a network that youth may access for safety and where they may obtain advice, guidance, programs, and services. Additionally, the measure provides that in awarding custody and visitation of a minor child, the court shall consider the preference that custody be awarded to both parents to ensure maximum continuing physical, emotional, and meaningful contact with both parents.

Although neither measure made it through conference, both can still be acted on in the 2014 Legislative Session.

This is an exciting community effort,” said Chun Oakland. “This is a good plan and a valuable program. We will continue to work hard to pass supportive legislation this upcoming session.”

Today’s event was hosted by the Hawaii State Legislature’s Keiki Caucus, Office of Youth Services, Hawaii State Student Council, and Hawaii Youth Services Network.

Governor Signs Measures to Support Hawaii’s Kupuna

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law several measures central to the continued support and protection of Hawaii’s kupuna.

I am appreciative to the Governor for signing these priority measures,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services and co-convener of the Hawaii State Legislature’s Kupuna Caucus. “As Hawaii’s population ages, it remains incumbent upon us to offer the programs and tools necessary to make certain that our parents and grandparents are well taken care of. The enactment of these bills shows the State’s continued dedication to serving Hawaii’s kupuna, ensuring that they can continue to thrive.”

House Bill (HB) 529, relating to care homes, requires all operators of adult foster homes, assisted living facilities, and expanded adult residential care homes to obtain and maintain a sufficient amount of liability insurance with respect to their operations.

HB 120, relating to health, requires the Department of Health to post on its website reports of all inspections at state-licensed care facilities occurring on or after January 1, 2015. It also establishes a Working Group on Licensed Care Facilities.

SB 106, relating to aging, establishes and funds a position for an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Services Coordinator. The measure also appropriates funds for programs and services that support the State’s elderly population, including Kupuna Care and Health Aging Partnership and establishes the Task Force on Mobility Management.

HB 398, relating to human services, establishes a working group to review issues relating to the transition of oversight of home and community-based facilities from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. The working group is required to submit a report prior to the 2014 Regular Session.

SB 102, relating to elderly, requires financial institutions to report instances of suspected financial abuse of an elder directly to the appropriate county police department and the Department of Human Services.

Impact of Federal Affordable Care Act on Hawaii’s Medicaid Buy-In Program to be Discussed

Honolulu–  The Medicaid Buy-In Task force will be meeting on Tuesday, December 11 at 2 p.m. in the State Capitol’s Conference Room 229 to discuss the importance of the Medicaid Buy-In program, the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the program, and its implementation.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. John Mizuno, Dr. Kenneth Fink (Department of Human Services’ Med-QUEST Division administrator), various organizations and individuals will be participating in the discussion.

The Medicaid Buy-In Task Force is a joint legislative task force created through Act 200, SLH 2012.

The purpose of the Medicaid Buy-In Task Force is to explore the development and possible implementation of a Medicaid Buy-In program based on Hawaii’s current Medicaid income and asset limits, and subject to approval by the Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Medicaid Buy-In program is meant to be available for working individuals with disabilities and shall ensure the provision of health care services to qualified individuals who are employed, as demonstrated by proof of income in the form of pay stubs, tax returns, or other official documentation, and have disabilities as defined by the Department of Human Services.

Act 200 can be found here:

Governor Signs Bill to Support Long-Term Care Facilities

(Suzanne Chun Oakland joins Governor Abercrombie for the signing of Senate Bill 2466 into law.)

Honolulu- Today Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill (SB) 2466, Relating to Long- Term Care Facilities, into law. The measure establishes the nursing facility sustainability program special fund.

The revenue generated by SB 2466 will ensure that long-term care facilitates in Hawaii will be compensated for their services to Medicaid patients and the uninsured. This measure also will assist the State and the Department of Human Services in maintaining and providing medical assistance to those in need.

Long-term care facilitates in Hawaii have faced major financial challenges in providing quality health care for our residents,” said Senate Committee on Human Services Chair Suzanne Chun Oakland. “These challenges have been largely a result of payments to Medicaid enrollees for care not covered by the actual cost of care.  This measure will help to improve the quality of life for Hawaii’s residents by making certain that Medicaid recipients have access to health care.”

Governor Signs Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness Bill into Law

(Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland joins Governor Abercrombie for the signing of Senate Bill 2804 into law.)

HONOLULU-  Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed Senate Bill 2804 into law.  The measure establishes the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness under the Department of Human Services.

The Council will identify critical strategic goals and initiatives that would mitigate homelessness as well as ensure that homeless persons obtain permanent housing and become reintegrated into the community.

I am glad that the Governor signed this bill into law to further help one of the most vulnerable populations in our State.  Because Homelessness is a multifaceted and complex matter, one of the functions of the Council is to work collaboratively with various organizations to find ways we can better serve and assist individuals and families,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services.

Under the law, the Department of Human Services is required to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing safe havens in Hawaii and to submit a report to the Legislature prior to the convening of the 2013 Regular Session. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2012.

The governor also named Colin C. Kippen as the new Coordinator on Homelessness today.

Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz Introduces “Caylee’s Law”

HONOLULU—In reaction to the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz has introduced a measure that would make it a felony for a parent or guardian who fails to report a missing child 12 years old or younger within 48 hours to a law enforcement agency.  The bill, Senate Bill 2275, is being referred to as “Caylee’s Law.”

The disappearance of Florida girl Caylee Anthony sparked public debate and outrage across the country. Casey Anthony, the mother of Caylee, did not report the child’s disappearance for about a month after her disappearance.

“This bill focuses on protecting Hawaii’s keiki by ensuring that greater accountability and responsibility be placed on parents and guardians to report a missing child in a timely manner,” said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, who represents District 22, which encompasses the areas of Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Whitmore, Hale‘iwa, Mokule‘ia, Waialua, Sunset Beach, Pupukea. “My office received a large of number emails requesting that something be done to prevent such future instances.”

The bill would also impose a duty on parents and guardians to report the death of a child or the location of a child’s corpse to law enforcement agency within 2 hours of discovery. Failure to do so would result in a felony.

Informational Briefing on Office of Youth Services

On November 16, 2011 the Office of Youth Services (OYS) provided an update on the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) consent decree in a joint briefing before the Senate and House Committees on Human Services.

OYS provides and coordinates a continuum of services and programs for youth-at-risk to prevent delinquency and reduce the incidence of recidivism. Although a core responsibility of the OYS is to manage and operate the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF), the agency places great emphasis on providing and supporting “front end” prevention, diversion, and intervention services.

In 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union called public attention to the abusive conditions at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF). To avoid a lawsuit, which would have been instituted by the U.S. Attorney General, the State of Hawaii entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2006. In the MOA, the State agreed to comply with 64 substantive remedial measures as outlined in the MOA. From 2006 through 2010, the State’s progress in remediating the issues identified in the MOA was evaluated regularly by monitors contracted by the DOJ. In a letter dated May 11, 2011 from the DOJ to the State’s Department of the Attorney General, the State was advised that the DOJ had closed their investigation of the conditions of confinement at HYCF.

Senate and House Hold Info Brief on Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

On October 27, 2011, the Senate and House Committees on Human Services held a joint informational briefing to discuss concerns with elder abuse and financial exploitation in Hawaii. Committee Chairs Senator Chun Oakland and Representative John M. Mizuno held the meeting.

According to the Executive Office on Aging, by year 2020, one in four Hawaii residents will be age 60 or older. Hawaii’s elderly population is graying faster than any other state in the union.

Consumer protection issues dealing with Hawaii’s seniors, such as but not limited to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation were among topics of discussion at the briefing. Several organizations were invited and attended the briefing to provide the committees with information and updates.

At the conclusion of the briefing, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland and Representative John M. Mizuno will summarize the suggested solutions ascertained from this briefing to better address protective policy for Hawaii’s elderly. The Committee Chairs may also identify future legislation aimed at reducing elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Informational Briefing on Medicaid to be Held at State Capitol

(Honolulu) – The State House and Senate Committees on Human Services will be holding a joint informational briefing to receive updates from the Department of Human Services (DHS) Med QUEST Division on some changes being proposed and/or implemented by DHS as they relate to Medicaid programs. Members of the public are also invited to attend the hearing regarding any issues that may have arisen or may need attention in the provision of health services covered by Medicaid.

The Informational Briefing will be held on Friday, July 29, at 9:00 a.m. in Conference Room 329, at the State Capitol.

Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, said “We hope local residents will show up at the hearing to listen to these changes that could impact Medicaid, and to express their ideas and comments directly to the their legislators and the Human Services people who administer Medicaid.”

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