BY SEN. SUZANNE CHUN OAKLAND – I would like to speak in strong support of HB200, CD1. First of all, I would like to thank the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees, the WAM and FIN committee members and hardworking staff, and my legislative colleagues for being so supportive of funding programs that will make a significant difference in the lives of infants, children, youth, kupuna and families.
HB200, CD1, contains funding that will support people in meeting basic human needs, including food, shelter and health care.
The Legislature’s commitment to our kupuna and persons with disabilities is significant this year. In this State budget bill, along with provisions in SB 106, CD1, there is:
1. full funding for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers statewide, so that people can have one-stop resource centers to connect kupuna and persons with disabilities to connect with long term care services and supports that will improve their quality of life;
2. a total of $8 million allocated for Kupuna Care, which will help thousands of seniors with home delivered meals, transportation services, respite services, home modification, and health and wellness services;
3. funding for senior centers, the Healthy Aging Partnership program that has contributed to reducing injury and falls among our kupuna, and funding to do an assessment and actuarial analysis for a long term care insurance program for working people in Hawaii.
Also, noteworthy, this year, is funding that:
1. addresses the shortfall in early intervention services for children with special health needs;
2. supports home and community-based waiver services for developmentally disabled children and adults; and
3. funds health care payments for people eligible for QUEST and Expanded QUEST, impacting over 270,000 people in Hawaii, as well as implements the Affordable Health Care Act requirement that allows young people to be covered by their parents up to age 26 years of age who are still living with their parents as dependents.
HB200, CD1, also:
4. restores funds to the acute care hospitals at a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate;
5. increases the reimbursement rate for primary care physicians reflecting federal funds Hawaii is eligible for as part of the Affordable Care Act;
4. funds managed health care for immigrants, migrants and refugees; and
4. supports the technology and programming work necessary to complete the new, more efficient, and accountable Medicaid eligibility system by October 1st of this year to enroll Hawaii’s eligible residents needing health care insurance and meet the Affordable Health Care Act start date of January 1, 2014.
There is also resources appropriated in HB200, CD1, to support:
5. neighborhood centers and wrap around services statewide for families to intervene and prevent child abuse and neglect and promote healthy family relationships;
6. voluntary foster care that will provide stable housing for youth, while attending higher education or working, up to age 21;
8. 2 parole officer positions for neighbor islands to allow youth to stay on their islands and reduce the number of neighbor island youth having to go to Oahu to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility;
9. continue supporting 28 middle schools with resources for positve after-school programs statewide using TANF funds;
10. resources to domestic violence and sexual assault services, legal services for our very poor, funding for deaf and blind support services, and funds to support the work of the Commission on the Status of Women and the State’s Fatherhood Commission.
Finally, I wanted to highlight, the Legislature’s commitment to address homelessness and affordable housing options for people in Hawaii. Through HB 200, CD1, in combination with SB515, CD1, the Legislature:
10. fully funds $1.5 million for the Housing First Program statewide to assist chronically homeless people obtain and maintain permanent housing;
11. begins much needed repair and maintenance of existing homeless shelters; and
12. supports a centralized service system of health care for seriously mentally ill persons.
These initiatives, along with other significant allocations for shallow rent subsidies, veteran services, public housing renovatios, substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, rapid rehousing services, shelter plus care services, increased rental housing trust fund and dwelling unit revolving funds for affordable housing infrastructure, truly demonstrates a very important commitment of the Legislature and Hawaii’s residents to helping individuals, couples and families who are homeless become sheltered and secire permanent housing as well as begin to address the shortage of 50,000 new housing units needed in Hawaii that is anticipated in next four years.
Mahalo, colleagues and the people of Hawaii, for your support of HB 200, CD1.
Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, the chair of the Senate Human Services committee, made these remarks on the Senate floor on April 30, 2013.