Hawaii healthcare leadership heading into 2019

The 2018 midterm election brought forth a rise in prominence for some health care leaders as well as changes to health care policy leadership in the Hawaii State Legislature.

Newly-elected Lt. Governor Josh Green represents an elevation of health care leadership to higher office. Green is a physician who served on the state legislature for 14 years, where he served as Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee and on the Senate Health Committee. Green has indicated that his major priorities while in office include addressing the state’s homelessness crisis, improving access to health care, and tackling the state’s healthcare workforce shortage.

Green has also appointed several health care leaders to his staff. Green recently hired attorney Jeremy Lakin as his deputy chief of staff; Latkin previously worked as the Manager of Legislation & Policy for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. Green also appointed J.P. Schmidt, the former state insurance commissioner who served under Gov. Linda Lingle, as a senior policy advisor.

State Legislature:

Heading into 2019, the state legislature is also experiencing changes. In the House, the Health and Human Services Committee split into separate committees — Representative John Mizuno (who is the current Health and Human Services Committee Chair) will continue to Chair the new House Health Committee in 2019 and Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura will Chair the new House Human Services and Homelessness Committee. While the two committees have different Chairs and Vice Chairs, they are made up of the same representatives.

In the state Senate, Senator Roz Baker will again Chair the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health, and taking over for Lt. Governor Green as Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee is Senator Russell Ruderman.

With the creation of the new House Human Services and Homelessness Committee, three of the four health and human services leaders in the state legislature will come from neighboring islands in 2019, giving them a larger voice in Hawaii health policy issues. Senator Baker represents the 6th Senate District on Maui, and both Sen. Ruderman and Rep. San Buenaventura represent districts on the Big Island.