SA: ‘Proposals Seek to Boost Hawaiians’ Health’

Kristen Consillio
Star-Advertiser, 18 Jan. 2017

A group of health leaders is proposing public policy changes such as a minimum wage hike and public dental benefits for low-income residents in an attempt to reduce health disparities among Native Hawaiians with a higher proportion of chronic diseases.

The Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, created in 2013, presented 16 public policy measures to lawmakers Tuesday. Among the most controversial is raising the minimum wage, currently set at $9.25 an hour, to $15 an hour by 2020. The group also is calling for the restoration of adult dental benefits for enrollees of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income residents, and the creation of public school-based health centers for children.

“We develop chronic diseases 10 years sooner than other groups, and we die 10 years earlier than other groups,” said Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, chairman of the University of Hawaii Department of Native Hawaiian Health, who is part of the task force.

Native Hawaiians are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, including cancer, and live in environments with poor or low access to healthful food, education and safe physical environments, he told key Senate leaders on the eve of the legislative session.

The group is asking lawmakers to improve public sidewalks and parks in places where Native Hawaiians live, and for a portion of the transient accommodations tax and the establishment of a 9.25 percent fee on restaurants and entertainment venues to go toward social, educational and economic programs that benefit Native Hawaiians. The group also is requesting an expansion of health insurance benefits to include reimbursements for traditional practices including hula dancing and canoe paddling.

Key senators on the health and human services committees said they are ready to move forward on proposals, but directed the group to come up with more specific, actionable bills to advocate this session.

“We’re ready to move. We don’t need to do more task force studies or compilations of data. We need actionable items such as legislation of what to do,” said Sen. J. Kalani English (D, Hana-East-Upcountry Maui).

“We don’t need any more talk. What’s good for Native Hawaiians is good for all,” added Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-­Kakaako). “We are so on board.”

Read the full article on the Star-Advertiser site

SA: ‘After-hours Clinic for Children Opens at Queen’s-West’

By Kristen Consillio
Star-Advertiser, January 16, 2017

The Queen’s Medical Center has opened a pediatric after-hours clinic at its Ewa Beach hospital to care for the growing number of children in West Oahu.

The center, which opened Monday, treats infants and children up to age 17. It is the only pediatric specialty clinic in the burgeoning community, open Monday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from noon to 8 p.m.

“It’s the start of pediatrics at Queen’s-West,” said Dr. Kristin Fernandez, lead physician for Queen’s-West Pediatric After Hours Center. “Queen’s is committed to really looking at what the community needs are out here. We have a lot of young families, and the population’s just growing. Queen’s wants to be able to deliver care to pediatric patients when patients’ own doctors can’t see them.”

The hospital, which opened in 2014 after the closure of St. Francis Medical Center-West, is slowly ramping up services based on community needs and is looking to add maternity services in the future, she said.

“Parents have to do these long commutes, and by the time they discover their child is sick and they want them seen, it’s really like 7 p.m.,” she said. “So they really do need someone available in the hours when their doctors’ offices are closed.”

Queen’s also announced this week that its Punchbowl hospital is now certified as Hawaii’s first comprehensive stroke center, meaning patients will have 24-hour access to specialty neurosurgeons seven days a week. The center plans to do more outreach and teach the public about getting the latest medicines quickly after a stroke occurs to try to reverse its effects. The center also is working with other hospitals statewide through telehealth services so that patients in rural communities have access to stroke experts.

The center, established in 2012, will study health disparities among minority populations and research treatments unique to residents that potentially could result in new clinical trials. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Hawaii, according to Queen’s.

“A lot of cutting-edge new treatments are only available under clinical trials. There may be a potential new drug or therapy that can make people better,” said Kazuma Nakagawa, Queen’s medical director of obstetric neurovascular service. “If (patients) come in with a devastating stroke to the comprehensive stroke center, their chances of having a full recovery and eventually going home is much higher.”

The Numbers Say You Won’t Make It Without a College Degree

Photo from a University of Hawaii-LCC graduation ceremony.

Photo from a University of Hawaii-LCC graduation ceremony.

From “Pay Gap Between College Grads, Everyone Else Hits Record,” Associated Press/Star-Advertiser, 12 Jan. 2017.

WASHINGTON >> Americans with no more than a high school degree have fallen so far behind college graduates in their economic lives that the earnings gap between college grads and everyone else has reached its widest point on record.

The growing disparity has become a source of frustration for millions of Americans worried that they — and their children — are losing economic ground.

College graduates, on average, earned 56 percent more than high school grads in 2015, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. That was up from 51 percent in 1999 and is the largest such gap in EPI’s figures dating to 1973.

Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, college-educated workers have captured most of the new jobs and enjoyed pay gains. Non-college grads, by contrast, have faced dwindling job opportunities and an overall 3 percent decline in income, EPI’s data shows.

“The post-Great Recession economy has divided the country along a fault line demarcated by college education,” Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, said in a report last year.

College grads have long enjoyed economic advantages over Americans with less education. But as the disparity widens, it is doing so in ways that go beyond income, from homeownership to marriage to retirement. Education has become a dividing line that affects how Americans vote, the likelihood that they will own a home and their geographic mobility.

The dominance of college graduates in the economy is, if anything, accelerating. Last year, for the first time, a larger proportion of workers were college grads (36 percent) than high school-only grads (34 percent), Carnevale’s research found. The number of employed college grads has risen 21 percent since the recession began in December 2007, while the number of employed people with only a high school degree has dropped nearly 8 percent.

Behind the trend is a greater demand for educated workers, and the retirement of older Americans, who are more likely to be high school-only graduates.

The split is especially stark among white men. For middle-age white men with only high school degrees — the core of President-elect Donald Trump’s support — inflation-adjusted income fell 9 percent from 1996 through 2014, according to Sentier Research, an analytics firm. By contrast, income for white men in the same age bracket who are college graduates jumped 23 percent.  Continue reading

Town Hall Meeting 01/10/17