5 Things Hawaii: Q&A with Rep. John Mizuno, What You Missed, Dave Underriner

I felt so good about this month’s edition of 5 Things We’re Watching that I hit send before it was ready…  I guess what this shows is that we’re a dedicated group of folks that are trying to get good content out quickly – even if sometimes we mess up in the process.

So, mahalo for opening our emails, attending our conference, and reading content at our site — even when we’re not quite at our best!  I appreciate you putting up with us, and for your ongoing support.


DJ 5 Things SignatureWith help from Emily Boerger
and Sara Gentzler


1. Q&A: Rep. John Mizuno, Chair of Hawaii’s House Health Committee

As House Health Committee Chair, Rep. John Mizuno is playing a leading role in what happens next for health care in Hawaii this session. He paused in the middle of a busy day this week for this Q&A with State of Reform reporter Sara Gentzler.

They talked about his priorities this session, contentious topics in the committee, and what’s in-store as session moves forward — from Medicaid for All to medical cannabis. Sara also asked about that bill that would eventually ban cigarette sales to anyone under age 100.


2.  Keynotes from our 2019 HI conference

Last month we hosted our 2019 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference in Honolulu, bringing together attendees from across the silos of health care. It was great to see so many of you in attendance! But, if you weren’t able to join us, we wanted to make sure you still had an opportunity to listen to the remarks from our thoughtful and insightful keynote speakers.

Our morning keynote was with Nick Macchione, Director and Deputy Administrative Officer of the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency. During lunch, HMSA CEO Mike Stollar and HPH CEO Ray Vara joined me on stage for a lively Q&A. Finally, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and DHS Deputy Director Cathy Betts rounded out the day, offering an update from state leadership.

3. Bills we’re watching this session

There have been a flurry of health-related bills introduced during the first few weeks of Hawaii’s 2019 legislative session, ranging from mental health and homelessness to a long list of potential new pilot programs. In this piece, senior reporter Emily Boerger breaks down eight bills she is watching.

A few highlights from our short list: a bill that would establish a new long-term care facility to treat non-forensic mental health patients.  Add another that would continue large investments into homelessness, including $16.5 million for outreach and various programs and over $2 million to establish rental assistance pilot programs. There is also a bill to establish a “culturally competent palliative care pilot initiative” in Hawaii, and another potential pilot program that aims to address Hawaii’s physician workforce shortage.

4.  Video: Dave Underriner, Kaiser Permanente

Dave Underriner is the president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals of Hawaii. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss technology in health care.

“I think right now the innovation in technology is incredible… You know, you think about things like robotic surgery, same-day total hips… And what we find is that it’s better outcomes for people. We’re able to do things for people even as they get older, because they’re less invasive, so their quality of life can extend even as they deal with chronic illness.”


5.  Gov. Ige highlights homelessness in State of the State

Gov. David Ige emphasized a growing interest in public/private partnerships related to addressing homelessness in his recent State of the State address. Ige praised The Queen’s Medical Center for its recent efforts and named Lt. Gov. Josh Green as point person for fostering future partnerships in the private sector. Video of the full speech is online here.

In a statement, Green mentioned several strategies as part of his vision for the new role, including Ohana Zones, projects like the Punawai Rest Stop in Iwilei, and improving access to mental health services and drug rehabilitiation. “As a physician, the issue of homelessness has long been close to my heart and I am eager to continue working with the Governor’s team and the community at large to combat this crisis,” Green said.