Gov. Abercrombie

A new state agency “responsible for overall health planning for the state” came into being at

Gov. Abercrombie Spoke Wednesday On Healthcare Transformation

almost exactly the same time Gov. Neil Abercrombie launched his health transformation program.

Called the Hawaii Health Authority, the agency was created under a 2010 law that was passed by the Legislature, vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle, then enacted after lawmakers overrode the veto.

Lingle never appointed members of the Authority, which is based in the state Department of Budget and Finance, so Abercrombie named members last year.

Minutes of HHA board meetings posted on its website provide a fascinating behind-the-curtains look at the machinery of state government where competing interests vie for face time with the governor and financing from lawmakers.

From the start, according to the minutes, the HHA found itself competing for “turf” with Abercrombie’s own health transformation planners at the Hawaii Health Transformation Initiative.

Members of HHA regularly voiced suspicions that they were losing the bureaucratic turf war to Beth Giesting, Abercrombie’s healthcare transformaton coordinator, according to the minutes.

Giesting acknowledged friction with HHA in an interview with Hawaii Reporter, saying that the authority “is supposed to have very broad authority over how our health care system is funded and all that sort of stuff.

“Yes, there are some issues,” she continued. “We need to work to make sure that we’re all on the same page because with all the good intentions there are some contradictions and we are not yet working as closely together as we are going to be  in order to be effective.”

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at