5 Things Hawaii: AlohaCare, dialysis center opens, Sheri Daniels

Happy Fourth of July! DJ is taking a well deserved vacation, so I’m bringing you this edition of 5 Things We’re Watching, with some help from my colleagues Marjie High and Emily Boerger. We have news from AlohaCare, a veto from Gov. Ige, and more lined up for you. DJ will be back next edition but until then, here’s what we’re watching in Hawaii health care.

Kylie Walsh
State of Reform

1.  AlohaCare’s new innovation program

Last week AlohaCare announced a new Community Innovation Investment Program, Waiwai Ola. The program includes $5 million in funding for community-based programs that work toward achieving the Quadruple Aim.

AlohaCare will partner with primary care providers to implement pilot projects to improve the health of the community. Providers and organizations can submit their project proposals to AlohaCare until the end of July.

2.  Ige to veto medical cannabis bill

Governor Ige announced his intent to veto SB 2407 last week. The bill permits the use of medical cannabis for treating opioid and substance use disorders. A reportfrom the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health indicates that access to medical cannabis can reduce opioid use and slow down the development of opioid tolerance.

Ige’s rationale for vetoing the bill is that the Department of Health already has a process for physicians and patients to apply for new medical cannabis uses. The DOH testified in opposition to the bill, saying the measure “moves the use of medical cannabis…into the realm of treating chronic behavioral health illnesses and disorders, for which there is insufficient evidence.” Congresswoman Hanabusa released a statement opposing Ige’s intent to veto.

3. Dialysis centers face long inspection delays

After over three years of waiting to be inspected for Medicare and Medicaid accreditation, a new dialysis center fully opened in Mōʻiliʻili this month. With almost all dialysis facilities in Hawaii due for initial or re-certification in the next two years, the backlog and lack of trained certification personnel stands to become a major health crisis.

Approximately 4,000 Hawaiians need dialysis at least three times a week and over one in seven Hawaiians have kidney disease compared to only one in nine nationally. Rep. John Mizuno introduced HB 1895 in January which would add 3 new positions to address the backlog issue. The bill passed the legislature last month and is currently awaiting Governor Ige’s signature.

4.  Video: Sheri Daniels, Papa Ola Lokahi

Sheri Daniels is the Executive Director of Papa Ola Lokahi, which is dedicated to improving Native Hawaiian health and well-being. Part of Papa Ola Lokahi’s work includes developing a Native Hawaiian health care workforce and promoting traditional healing. Sheri joins us in this episode of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the overall well-being of Native Hawaiians.

“There is so much happening with Native Hawaiian issues from water rights on Maui to sand mining on Maui to kupuna iwi, to the bones of our ancestors. All of these things play a role in health… How does all of that play into a health of a kanaka, of a person?”

5.  Hawaii’s suicide rate increases

recent report by the CDC shows that the national suicide rate increased by over 25 percent from 1999 to 2016. Hawaii’s suicide rate increased by 18.3 percent during that time period.

Hawaii’s suicide rate has remained close to the the national rate since 1999. In 2016, the national average was 15.4 per 100,000. Hawaii’s rate was 15.2 per 100,000. But Hawaii County’s rate was almost double Honolulu County, at 20.4 compared to 10.3 per 100,000.