HONOLULU, HAWAII —  The Hawai`i Coalition for Health (HCH) has formed a task force to address the many systemic problems which too often confront injured patients in Hawai`i who need treatment and rehabilitation from traumatic injuries that often leave them wholly or partially disabled.

Rafael del Castillo, President of the 16-year old HCH said that this task force is one of several new initiatives planned by the organization. “The decision to form thistask force arose from my many personal experiences helping patients trying to navigate our dysfunctional health care ‘system’; those who have been forced to fight their insurance companies for treatment because of inappropriate treatment delays or outright denials”, del Castillo said.

“No one is ever prepared for a disabling injury. I believe most people expect our health care system to be well-organized and ready to help them with their complex medical needs — but this is no longer the case. Were it left to the health care providers, those expectations might be met, but with the insurance companies now in full control of critical medical decisions, the patients and their doctors are literally at the mercy of corporate bureaucrats with their eye on the bottom line instead of what’s best for the patient. The experience often becomes adversarial which adds more delays. Meanwhile, the injured party continues to needlessly suffer and entire families are thrown into intense emotional and financial distress”, said del Castillo.

The task force is comprised of physicians, nurses, therapists, and providers of services, as well as caregivers of patients with recent injuries.

One such caregiver participating in the task force confided, “My son and I had a really terrible experience after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. He had more than one health insurance plan, but I had to fight for services at every step of the way. He was confined to an inappropriate facility for months because we were denied coverage for the rehab he needed until ‘Del’ agreed to help us. Once we were approved to go to the mainland, we had terrible experiences with the travel to-and-from that was very harmful to my son. I don’t want to see anyone else have to go what we went through.”

Del Castillo noted, “This task force has been under discussion for some months. There is very important work to be done to rectify this problem and we are profoundly grateful for the many physicians, professionals and patients who are giving of their time and energy to help.”  

Within the next few days, after the first organizational meeting, the task force will be able to provide the media with a roster of patients willing to share their own negative experiences with our broken health care system”. We strongly encourage anyone experiencing delays in or denials for appropriate medical treatment to contact us. There is great strength in numbers.

Because of his experience as a former teacher and now as a lawyer fighting for affordable, accessible health care, del Castillo is a candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District. He is running on a broad human-rights platform with health care “at the top of his list.” Rafael del Castillo believes, “Until our elected officials begin to work for ‘us’, we will never obtain the health care system all Americans deserve.

Report from The Hawai`i Coalition for Health

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