Governor Abercrombie Offices Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

After a rigorous six-month planning process made possible by a federal grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the state today announced the release of its healthcare transformation plan. Under CMMI’s State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, Beth Giesting, the state’s healthcare transformation coordinator, convened more than 100 stakeholders from across the state to design Hawaii’s roadmap to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health and lower costs.

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

“Transforming our state’s healthcare system is a high priority of my administration, and under the leadership of Beth Giesting, we’ve made substantial progress since her appointment two years ago,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “This healthcare transformation plan outlines clear, tangible steps we can take to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care in Hawaii.”

“The resources that accompanied the SIM planning grant came at just the right time to allow us to take our efforts to the next level,” added Giesting. “We firmly believe that the priorities outlined in our plan will improve the quality of care and outcomes for all residents, while addressing the long-term fiscal sustainability of our healthcare system. In addition, it will bring greater equity by reducing geographic and cultural barriers to care.”

As part of its roadmap for transformation, the state’s plan identifies six essential catalysts for transformation:

  1. Primary Care Practice Redesign: Enrolling at least 80 percent of Hawaii residents in a patient-centered medical home by 2017 and exploring strategies to integrate behavioral health services into the primary care setting
  2. Care Coordination: Implementing programs to help high-risk/high-need individuals receive the services they need in part by establishing Medicaid Health Homes and Community Care Networks
  3. Payment Reform: Transitioning all payers to value-based purchasing by aligning reimbursement strategies
  4. Health Information Technology: Improving connectivity and capability across the healthcare ecosystem by accelerating adoption of electronic health records and increasing utilization of health information exchange
  5. Workforce Development: Expanding capacity for team-based care, addressing workforce shortages and improving cultural competency of providers
  6. Policy Strategies and Levers: Aligning state resources to drive policy changes, including the creation of a permanent transformation structure within state government

The plan is now available in its entirety for review at: www.hawaiihealthcareproject.org

In addition to Hawaii, 15 other states were announced as awardees of the SIM planning grant. Each state had six months to design and submit its own healthcare transformation plan, which will now be eligible for anticipated implementation awards later this year. CMMI expects to issue up to five such awards to the states to implement their plans, with each award valued between $20 and $60 million.

Hawaii Joins National Invasive Species Awareness Week

The State of Hawaii will participate in National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW). Gov. Neil Abercrombie will kick off the 2nd annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) with a proclamation on March 3 at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Gov. Abercrombie has made invasive species an administration priority by supporting his cabinet to work across departments as members of the HISC and endorsing 2014 legislative initiatives proposing up to $5 million to meet operating costs of Invasive Species Programs.

“Protecting our islands from the threat of invasive species remains a top priority,” Gov. Abercrombie said in this year’s State of the State address. “We are experiencing a biological crisis involving a multitude of invaders ranging from the little fire ant and coconut rhinoceros beetle, which can harm our animals and trees, to parasites attacking coffee crops. Each represents a deadly threat to our isolated ecosystem, natural resources, and economy, and I ask for the public’s engagement in addressing this menace.”

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), the interagency board created by the Legislature to provide cabinet-level direction on invasive species issues, is coordinating a series of events and activities, open to the public, in recognition of Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in partnership with the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, county-based Invasive Species Committees, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Biodiversity Information Network, and The Nature Conservancy.

HISAW Kickoff at the Capitol, March 3, 9 a.m. – noon, Capitol Auditorium

  • Governor’s Proclamation: The public is invited to join Governor Abercrombie in commencing Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week. HISC Co-Chairs, Scott Enright (Hawaii Department of Agriculture) and William J. Aila, Jr. (Department of Land and Natural Resources) will also offer opening remarks.
  • HISC Awards Ceremony: The HISC will honor individuals, agencies, organizations, and businesses that have made a difference in protecting Hawaii from the impacts of invasive species. Members of the Legislature will present the awards in the categories of Hottest Hotline Report, Business Leader, Community Hero, County MVP’s, and Greatest Hit of 2013. See full list of winners and honorable mentions at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/
  • Participation and Information Booths: presented by Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Malama Maunaloa, Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership, Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership, Oahu Army Natural Resource Program, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, University of Hawaii, and more.
  • Be a Beetle Buster & Help Save Hawaii’s Coconut Trees: March 3 kick-off

People across the state can easily participate in HISAW online by joining this special “mission” to survey all coconut trees in Hawaii for the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. The public is invited to take photos of the crowns of coconut trees and post them to the “Help Save Hawaii’s Coconut Trees” mission on the Project Noah website or via mobile app. The photos will be reviewed by the Beetle Buster Team from the University of Hawaii Natural Resources and Environmental Management class to assess the presence or absence of this pest across the state. Adult rhino beetles bore into the crowns of coconut trees to drink the sap, leaving distinctive v-shaped cuts in the leaves when the fronds grow out. They could kill half the coconut trees in the state, if they aren’t detected and eradicated. The Beetle Buster Team will flag photos that show suspected beetle damage for follow up surveys. The project will go live on Monday, March 3. For more information and instructions on how to participate, go to: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/

Volunteer Events: Occurring statewide from March 3 to 9
Visit the Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week website at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/ for a full list of volunteer activities across the state. Opportunities include:

  • Helping clear invasive weeds along the Kaluapuhi Trail in Kokee (March 5)
  • Learning about invasive species issues in Hawaii at the Paintballs and Digital Mapping Talk Story, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge (March 7)
  • Removing invasive species at Lyon Arboretum (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds on the offshore islet of Mokuauia (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds in the Koolau Mountains (March 9)
  • Helping to restore Mauna Kea (throughout March)

To learn more about NISAW, visit http://www.nisaw.org. To learn more about the local-level HISAW, visit http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) is a cabinet-level interagency collaboration mandated by Chapter 194, Hawaii Revised Statutes. It is co-chaired by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture with additional voting members from the Departments of Health, Transportation, and Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the University of Hawaii. The HISC approves an annual budget to support invasive species prevention, control, and public outreach projects across the state. http://www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $62.4 Million for Education Facilities Statewide

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $62.4 million for capital improvement projects (CIP) that will improve various Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) facilities across the state, while stimulating the economy and generating local jobs.

“These funds will help to create a better learning environment for our keiki and provide teachers with the tools they need to succeed,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In the process, the funds will create work for hundreds in Hawaii.”

Kau High School

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$36,365,000 – Improving and Maintaining Facilities and Infrastructure – Planning, design, construction and equipment to improve and maintain facilities and infrastructure for various schools statewide. DOE’s estimated backlog for repair and maintenance is at $265 million. These projects include general school building improvements, electrical upgrades and playground equipment repair, along with maintenance and other school repairs and renovations. Some of these funds will go to the overall repair project at the damaged Farrington High Auditorium.

$7,554,000 – Program Support – Planning, land, design, construction and equipment for program support at various schools statewide, including new/temporary facilities, improvements to existing facilities, ground and site improvements, and for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and gender equity. ADA projects include McKinley High, Baldwin High, Kohala Elementary and Honokaa High. Gender equity projects include Keaau High, Waiakea High and Waipahu High softball fields and Kahuku High and Intermediate girls’ athletic locker room. Funds will also complete construction of a locker room project at Lahainaluna High and complete design of a locker room at Konawaena Middle School.

$7,500,000 – Equity – Design and construction for equality projects to improve instructional spaces such as science labs, special education classroom renovations and classrooms on a statewide basis for classroom/learning environment parity. Equity projects also include energy improvements relating to heat abatement in classrooms.

$5,800,000 – Capacity – Plans, land, design, construction and equipment for capacity projects at various schools statewide nearing their enrollment capacity or are short of classroom space.

$5,200,000 – Staff Costs and Project Positions – Fiscal Year 2014 costs related to wages and fringe benefits for 60 project-funded permanent staff. The positions will provide the technical and clerical support necessary for the DOE to adequately address their CIP needs by moving its CIP project-funded staff to the vacant Liliuokalani Elementary in the near future.

Governor Abercrombie Names Judge Michael Wilson to Hawaii Supreme Court

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today named Judge Michael D. Wilson as his nomination for associate justice to the state Supreme Court. This nomination will fill the upcoming vacancy when Associate Justice Simeon Acoba retires next month and is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Judge Wilson

Gov. Abercrombie joined Judge Wilson and his family members to announce the appointment in a news conference this afternoon in the Executive Office Ceremonial Room.

“Both on and off the bench, Judge Wilson is a well-respected leader,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “He brings a wealth of experience, having served as an attorney and Circuit Court judge. The Constitution and our kuleana responsibilities to it will be in good hands.”

“I am very grateful and humbled for being placed as a candidate by the Judicial Selection Commission and honored by the Governor’s appointment,” said Judge Wilson.

Judge Wilson, 60, has served on the First Judicial Circuit since 2000, presiding over the felony trial calendar, drug court and mental health court. Previously, he was a chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources and Commission, commissioner for the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission and executive director for the state Division of Consumer Advocacy.

A graduate of Kailua High School, Judge Wilson earned a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.

The high court is composed of a chief justice and four associate justices. Judge Wilson is Gov. Abercrombie’s third appointment to the state Supreme Court. Justices are nominated by the Governor from a list of names submitted by the Judicial Selection Commission. A justice’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the state Senate. Each justice is initially appointed to a 10-year term. All justices must retire at age 70.

Governor Abercrombie Names Dr. Linda Rosen as Department of Health Director

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Dr. Linda Rosen as director of the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Rosen’s appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Dr. Linda Rosen

Dr. Linda Rosen

“Linda has more than 30 years of experience in the medical field and has held administrative positions for more than a decade,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Drawing from existing leadership within the Health Department, I have full confidence that Linda will continue the significant progress realized under late Director Loretta Fuddy for the remainder of her term.”

With the DOH since 2000, Dr. Rosen has served as medical director of the Family Health Services Division and Pediatric Emergency Services, deputy director for Health Resources Administration and, most recently, chief of the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, where she was responsible for administering a comprehensive emergency medical services system, including 911 ambulance services, trauma system development and community injury prevention.

Dr. Rosen is a pediatrician by training, working in the emergency and critical care and neonatology departments at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children from 1985 to 2000. She has also been a faculty member of the John A. Burns School of Medicine since 1987, as assistant and associate professor of pediatrics, and is currently an associate clinical professor of pediatrics and surgery.

Serving on a number of health boards and committees, Dr. Rosen is particularly passionate about reducing death, disability and health disparities through the application of a comprehensive public health approach to illness and injury, focusing on primary prevention and risk reduction.

A graduate of Punahou School, Dr. Rosen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Hawai‘i Bidding for Major Conservation Gathering Event Would Be a First for the U.S

As a four-person delegation representing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visits Hawaii this week, the state is showcasing its position as the anchor of the Pacific in a bid to host the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. The congress is the world’s leading summit on the environment.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A Hawai‘i-hosted congress would be the first time it has been held in the United States since the founding of IUCN in 1948, and the event would provide a unique opportunity to share with the world, the state and nation’s values and dedication to conserving nature on both national and international levels. As many as 8,000 delegates are expected to attend the 2016 meeting.

“Based on our success hosting the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, I believe we have a compelling case as to why the United States and Hawaii provide the ideal venue to host this gathering,”Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “The Aloha State is the anchor of the Pacific, and our bid is financially competitive and highlights the unique benefits of our location and host culture. We’re encouraging the IUCN evaluating team to review all that Hawai‘i has to offer for this preeminent conference.”

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

“IUCN has been fortunate to always receive strong invitations to host our World Conservation Congresses and the 2016 Congress is no exception. There are two excellent candidates in the running to host the event: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, United States of America and Istanbul, Turkey.

We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and commitment shown by Hawai‘i and thank the team for their warm welcome throughout the site visit. The IUCN Council will make a decision regarding the venue and hosts of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in May 2014,”said Dr. Enrique Lahmann, Global Director, Union Development Group; Congress Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

The delegation is receiving broad exposure to a wide-range of the natural and cultural attributes of the Hawaiian Islands through site visits on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, as well as meetings and receptions with government, hospitality industry, conservation and Native Hawaiian leaders. A cross-discipline, multi-agency organizing team, led by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is showing the delegation convention facilities, transportation, lodging and security infrastructure, attractions and meeting/marketing expertise. Members of the IUCN evaluating team also received a 107 page-long Hawai‘i Nature + Aloha, Imagine 2016 proposal, which documents broad support for the conference and includes in-depth detail about the Aloha State’s bid for the event.

DLNR Chairperson William Aila said, “With environmental and conservation issues very much at the forefront of worldwide attention, Hawai‘i is in a unique position to demonstrate what we are doing to advance conservation issues like climate change, watershed management, coral reef protection, and traditional knowledge. Having Hawai‘i host the 2016 Congress will show the world how our core values of Aloha Aina connect to nature and our diversity.”

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome the IUCN Site Visit Team to Hawai‘i,”said Chipper Wichman, director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and CEO and co-chair of the Hawai‘i IUCN 2016 Steering Committee. This is a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have been working for the past five years to bring the IUCN World Conservation Congress to Hawai‘i. “Our state is a world leader in biocultural conservation, and Gov. Abercrombie has put together a dynamic group led by William Aila and Esther Kia‘āina from the DLNR to host the IUCN team and show them the facilities and organizations that make Hawai‘i the best location for the world to convene and discuss global conservation issues. It has been an amazing week so far –we are leaving the IUCN delegation with a strong and lasting impression of Hawai‘i.”

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Hosts for the IUCN delegation are demonstrating that Hawai‘i is a destination where “hospitality is not a sideline.”The IUCN World Congress bid has the full support of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and the Hawai‘i Convention Center (HCC). During this week the delegation is having meetings with HCC staff and management and many of Hawai‘i’s leading HTA-member hospitality providers. Both HTA and HCC have been working for the past five years to support the bid process.

Governor Abercrombie Taps Bhagowalia as Chief Advisor on Technology, Cyber-Security

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment and promotion of Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia as Chief Advisor for Technology and Cyber-Security, effective Feb. 18, 2014. The new executive leadership position was created to establish Hawaii as a premier technology and cyber-security hub in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to strengthen ties between Hawaii and Washington, D.C. in support of the state’s Business and Technology Transformation.

Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia

“Under Sonny’s exceptionally positive leadership and energy, the State of Hawaii has made great strides in developing a strong technology and security foundation, launching key programs to transform business and technology in the state, and charting a strong course for the future with a nationally recognized transformation plan,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Now more than ever, we need Sonny to help our state take the next step by representing Hawaii at a national level to ensure we establish a cohesive technology and cyber-security strategy, position Hawaii for future federal collaboration and investments, and encourage our community stakeholders to continue to support Hawaii’s technology transformation.”

The Governor also highlighted significant accomplishments by Bhagowalia and his extended CIO team over the past two and a half years in a detailed annual report, released today and available for download at the state Office of Information Management Technology (OIMT) website: http://oimt.hawaii.gov

With this change, OIMT’s two deputy CIOs will be promoted into new roles to facilitate the office’s transition from key foundational activities, such as planning and designing new systems, to implementation. Deputy CIO of Operations Keone Kali will succeed Bhagowalia as state CIO, while Deputy CIO of Business Transformation Randy Baldemor will join the Office of the Governor as Director of Strategic Initiatives, both also effective Feb. 18, 2014.

Since its creation in 2011, OIMT has made tremendous progress in three overarching strategic areas:

1. Reengineering “the way we do business” (on-line versus waiting in-line)
2. Modernizing and securing the technology infrastructure
3. Establishing transparency and accountability through governance

Accomplishments highlighted in the comprehensive CIO Annual Report include:

1. Aligning business and IT through four key programs (enterprise resource planning, tax, health IT, and business process reengineering)
2. Strengthening the state’s critical security and technology infrastructure through four key programs (consolidated infrastructure, enterprise shared services, enterprise security/privacy, and the Hawaii Broadband Initiative)
3. Implementing transparency and accountability through two key programs (open government and governance)

Departmental collaboration with OIMT, as explained in the report, further illustrates the depth and breadth of the transformation effort.

“The standard of excellence in leadership, program execution and teamwork set by Sonny provides a solid foundation for Hawaii’s future, and I commend him for his commitment and service to the people of the State of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie added. “This is the right time to transition, and I am confident that Keone will maintain the high-quality execution of the state’s IT transformation plan and management of OIMT. In addition, Randy’s newly established position within my office demonstrates our commitment to furthering this effort, and it will facilitate the strategic alignment of priorities and resources on key business transformation initiatives as well as fostering greater coordination and collaboration across departments.”

Bhagowalia said: “I thank the Governor, my fellow directors, my extended ‘ohana’ of CIOs, all our staff, and the people of Hawaii for their unwavering support of the transformation. We are proud of the major accomplishments so far and excited about the road ahead for the great State of Hawaii. While I look forward to new horizons, I ask everyone for their continuing support of Hawaii’s next CIO, Keone, and Director of Strategic Initiatives, Randy, in their efforts to advance the transformation.”

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia
Prior to being appointed as Hawaii’s first CIO in July 2011, Bhagowalia served for 11 years as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and one year in as a Senior Level (SL) employee of the U.S. Government. He served as the Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C., supporting five national White House programs for the Federal CIO. He previously held two CIO executive leadership roles at the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education within the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also served with the FBI CIO within the U.S. Department of Justice for seven years as a SES (at Assistant Director level) and one year as a SL. In addition to his public sector experience, Bhagowalia served with distinction for 14.5 years as Chief Engineer/Manager at Boeing in support of Systems Integration and Business Development for U.S. Government Civilian, Defense and Intelligence Community Clients. He is a graduate from Syracuse University and Louisiana State University with Masters and Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering and Management.  He is a distinguished graduate (twice) from the National Defense University with CIO and IRM certification. He has won numerous national awards for executive excellence.

Keone Kali
Kali was named Deputy CIO in November 2012 and brings 20 years of experience in information technology, business development, and management in both the public and private sector. He previously served as the Director of Information Technology and acting Chief Technology Officer for the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui. Kali was also the CIO for the City of Beverly Hills, where he designed, executed and managed a comprehensive five-year Information Technology Master Plan, transformed the city’s technology architecture to support highly-available and accessible public services, and formed new revenue generating programs. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Randy Baldemor
Baldemor also joined OIMT over a year ago and brings to his new position 14 years of diverse business and government experience, including as deputy director of the state Department of Taxation, where he led the IT modernization efforts and business process re-engineering activities that significantly improved tax return processing and refund issuances. He has also served as president of software development company DiscoveryBox, assistant vice-president of claims for Island Insurance Companies, and litigation partner at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel LLP. Baldemor received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Florida and earned his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.

The new chief advisor and director positions are being funded through a grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting quality of life improvements in the state.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $19.1 Million for State Hospital Facilities

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $19.1 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) that will upgrade and improve eight Hawaii Health Systems Corporation facilities.

“These projects will go toward replacements, renovations and upgrades to our aging infrastructure at several state hospital facilities across the state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In addition to increasing safety and functionality, these projects, part of more than $2.1 billion in capital improvement projects released since I took office, will further stimulate our economy and generate more local jobs.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$4,000,000 – Kona Community Hospital Renovations and Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Address increased activity in the pharmacy, bring obstetric area to current standards, fix leaking showers, upgrade security doors, and continuation of the ER model

$2,200,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Kauai – Repair and expand existing air conditioning system, which has become prone to mechanical breakdowns

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

$2,100,000 – Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite Renovation/Upgrade, Hawaii Island – Existing equipment will be brought to current standards and enable patients to receive greater level of service, while reducing the need for patients to seek services on neighbor islands

$1,590,000 – Hilo Medical Center Laundry Washers and Dryers Replacement, Hawaii Island – Design and equipment for the siting and installation of laundry washers and dryers; majority of the washers are more than 22 years old and requires costly repairs; washers and dryers service Hilo Medical Center, Kau Hospital, and Hale Hoola Hamakua

$1,219,000 – Maluhia Hospital Air Conditioning System Upgrade, Oahu – Replace old equipment on the first, second, and third floors; existing air conditioning system is old and the replacement of the air handler units and other related equipment are necessary to improve air temperature and humidity for patients

$1,100,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Exterior Doors Replacement, Kauai – Replace exterior doors that are beyond repair; portion is nailed shut; doors need to be functional in case of emergencies

$850,000 – Hilo Medical Center Fire Alarm and Fire Suppression Systems Upgrade/Replacement, Hawaii Island – Upgrade and replace fire alarm and fire suppression systems to protect the health and safety of patients, visitors, and employees; existing system will be redesigned to meet current national fire protection requirements

$820,000 – Maluhia Hospital Dietary Electrical System and Emergency Generator Upgrade, Oahu – Existing electrical system in the Dietary Department is not connected to back-up power, and refrigerated foods would not be kept cool in the event of a power outage; when improvements are implemented, the hospital will have back-up power to keep Dietary in operation at all times

$800,000 – Maui Memorial Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Maui – Project will focus on patient care rooms in the East, South and West Wings, electrical rooms, pharmacy and laundry areas; existing air conditioning system has become prone to mechanical breakdowns and needs to be replaced

$750,000 – Hilo Medical Center Long-Term Care Facility, Hawaii Island – Planning of a new long-term care facility to replace the existing long-term care facility that no longer meets Medicare and Medicaid survey requirements

$600,000 – Leahi Hospital Reroofing, Oahu – The facility is more than 30 years old, and replacement of the roof is needed due to leaks

$500,000 – Leahi Hospital Walk-In Freezer and Refrigerators Replacement, Oahu – Current walk-in freezer and refrigerators are old and deteriorating with ice accumulating in the walls around the structure; project will also cool the food assembly area in the Dietary Department, which does not meet temperature requirements established by the Federal Survey Standards

$500,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Nurse Call and Baby Abduction System Replacement, Kauai – The existing system is more than 38 years old and parts are no longer available; with the new call system, communications between the nurse stations and patient rooms and for the baby abduction system will become more reliable

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Patient Dining Room Renovation, Kauai – The existing patient dining room is closed due to termite infestation, which has made the area a hazardous place for both patients and staff; patients are currently using a temporary dining room

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Nurse Call and Patient Wandering System Replacement, Kauai – The current system is more than 30 years old and replacement parts are no longer available

$384,000 – Leahi Hospital Trotter Building for Memory and Behavior Unit Renovation – Renovate Trotter Building to construct a Memory and Behavior Unit; there is a need for a Memory and Behavior Unit to accept more patients

$250,000 – Hilo Medical Center Patient Security System and Security Access System, Hawaii Island – Equipment for a patient security system and security access system to guard against infant abductions, dementia/Alzheimer patient elopements, and unauthorized access to sensitive areas; the system will also provide for the safety and security of patients, employees, and visitors, and meet the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Joint Commission regulations

$201,000 – Kau Hospital Renovations, Hawaii Island – Repairs to address items discovered during renovations of the roof, doors, windows, and air filtration and cooling systems, and hazardous material abatement; addresses repairs before additional renovations begin at the location

$199,000 – Kau Hospital Pluming Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Most of the pipes are more than 40 years old and require frequent repairs; in June, the hospital septic tanks were found to be corroding and posing a potential hazard to the integrity of the wastewater system; funds are needed to finance the engineering assessment and repair the system; the remainder of the funds will be used to design the plumbing upgrade within the facility

$75,000 – Kau Hospital Energy Audit, Hawaii Island – Determine cost-efficient ways to reduce energy usage and install energy-saving equipment such as variable frequency drives, controlling devices or programs, or modifying existing systems

$50,000 – Lanai Community Hospital Emergency Generator Replacement, Lanai – Transfer of Maui Memorial Medical Center’s generator that is no longer needed at the facility

Governor Abercrombie Releases $475,000 in CIP Funds for Ka’u Hospital

Senator Russell Ruderman just announced on Facebook the following release of funds for the Ka’u Hospital on the Big Island:

Kau Hospital

I am very happy to announce that today I received notification from Governor Abercrombie that he has released $475,000 in CIP funds for the Ka’u Hospital Renovations, Repairs, and Maintenance.

“It gives me great satisfaction to share with you that my Administration is releasing the following Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds for work in your District:

Ka’u Hospital, Hospital Renovations – $201,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Energy Audit) – $75,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Plumbing Upgrade) – $199,000

I understand how important these projects are to the people you serve in your District. Thank you for your work in securing these projects and I look forward to working together to see its completion.”

I appreciate the Governor’s New Day Work Projects initiative and thank him for his personal attention to this matter. The release of CIP funds for renovations to Ka’u Hospital is a welcome influx of needed funding to improve the infrastructure and safety for our community and projects like this will help improve the safety and health of our community in addition to help reduce unemployment in our district.

Island Perspective With Governor Neil Abercrombie

Gov. Abercrombie was on the Kona side of Hawaii Island on Saturday and was able to sit down with Sherry Bracken to discuss Hawaii’s strong fiscal standing, paying our unfunded liabilities, early childhood education, the rural residency program for physicians, Honokohau Harbor, airports, his position on the President Obama’s Council of Governors, renewable energy and energy costs.

Annual Report Highlights Hawaii’s Improving Economic, Fiscal Trajectory

The State of Hawaii’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, has been completed and shows Hawaii’s asset growth has outpaced liability growth for the first time in seven years.

Fiscal

The 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, measures the state’s net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

“The report measures the state’s net worth and overall fiscal health, which clearly shows strong positive fiscal growth over fiscal year 2012,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “Our improving trajectory is a reflection of positive trends in our local economy and responsible management of fiscal affairs, which now includes recognized improvements in meeting our obligations for timely reporting.”

The state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) in coordination with the Department of Budget and Finance and the Office of the Legislative Auditor completed the CAFR on Jan. 27, 2014. The report shows the State of Hawaii’s net position (assets less liabilities) for primary governmental activities increased for the first time since 2006 by $307.1 million, from $4.5 billion to $4.8 billion. This represents an increase of 6.8 percent over 2012. Assets increased by $1.1 billion, which outpaced an increase in liabilities of $807 million. The growth in assets is attributable to accelerating growth in revenues and slower-paced growth in operating expenditures.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was joined by Comptroller Dean Seki and Finance Director Kalbert Young to announce the public release of the 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, which measures the state's net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was joined by Comptroller Dean Seki and Finance Director Kalbert Young to announce the public release of the 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the State of Hawaii, which measures the state’s net position as a broad indicator of its net worth and overall fiscal health.

In addition, for the first time in more than five years, the state received the Award of Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2012 CAFR. The award is given to governments for publishing financial reports that are clear, accurate, and delivered in a timely manner. Under the Abercrombie Administration, DAGS along with the Department of Budget and Finance have worked with the Office of the Legislative Auditor and an external auditor to address deficiencies in the timely production of previous CAFRs.

“The CAFR represents a coordinated and truly collaborative effort of all state departments with the Legislative Auditor and external auditor,” said DAGS Comptroller Dean Seki. “For each of the last three years, the CAFR has been delivered in a more timely manner, compared to the state’s delivery prior, and will serve as a helpful guide for anyone who has interest in the financial operations of the state.”

Fiscal3

State Finance Director Kalbert Young commended: “Investors and credit agencies expect year-end financial reports to be available as soon as possible after the closing of the fiscal year so that the information is not outdated. We believe the state can continue to improve delivery of future reports.”

The CAFR also identified an encouraging decrease in capital projects fund standing balances from $281 million to $149 million. This reflects an increase in capital improvement project activity as more funds were deployed with improved efficiency into the economy through construction projects.

PowerPoint Presentation

Addressing Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Young added: “The report illustrates the importance of pre-paying annual required contribution for OPEB liabilities, as Gov. Abercrombie has been advocating over the last three years. The successful passage of Act 268 in 2013 and our intending Annual Required Contribution (ARC) contribution of $100 million in fiscal year 2014 should start to slow and then reverse the increase on the balance sheet and further improve our asset ratio.”

The State of Hawaii’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, is available online at: http://ags.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/soh-cafr-20130630.pdf

Governor Abercrombie Releases $15.85 Million for Agriculture, Watershed Preservation

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $15.85 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) administered by the state Department of Agriculture in support of the local agriculture industry and further preservation of Hawaii’s watersheds.

“Hawaii’s agriculture industry is vital to our local economy and supports thriving rural communities,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “It’s essential to protect our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Our state’s watershed initiative remains a top priority, and it is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$12,500,000 – Agricultural Land, Oahu – Funds to purchase three land parcels in Wahiawa for agribusiness operations; the properties have access to roads, municipal water, and utilities, which make it efficient for transport of produce and cost effective for agribusiness operations (A fourth parcel may be purchased, pending negotiations with another buyer)

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

$1,500,000 – Lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project, Island of Hawaii – Construction to repair flumes, ditches, reservoirs and tunnels; remove sediment in the ditches; modify intake structures; and install new lateral distribution lines for the irrigation system

$1,000,000 – State Agricultural Water Use Development Plan, statewide – Project planning to continue to inventory irrigation systems throughout the state, prepare historic description of the original irrigation infrastructure, assess the current condition, propose maintenance improvements, identify irrigation source and water use requirements, and develop long-term water use projections

$700,000 – Kunia Agricultural Park, Oahu – Design of the 150-acre Kunia Agricultural Park in Royal Kunia; design plans will include provisions to subdivide the land parcel into 26 lots and coordinating adjacent infrastructure to make utilities available to the parcels

$75,000 – East Kauai Irrigation System, Kauai – Construction for upgrades and repairs including clearing, lining, repairing and stabilizing the access roads, ditches, flumes, tunnels, reservoirs, diversions and intakes

$75,000 – Waimanalo Irrigation System Improvements, Oahu – Design for the extension of the main irrigation pipeline; the extension will be approximately 1,500 linear feet

Hawaii’s Education Goal of 55 Percent with a College Degree by 2025 – “55 by ’25”

Leaders in education and business, and politicians spoke at a news conference today in an effort to strengthen the state’s workforce through higher education. During the event at Honolulu Community College, Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education (Hawaii P-20), a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawaii State Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii System today announced the launch of Phase II of the “55 by ‘25” campaign.

The launch of phase II of the "55 by '25" campaign is celebrated by (L to R): Senator Jill Tokuda, Dr. GG Weisenfeld, David Lassner, Karen Lee, Kathryn Matayoshi, John La Forgia, Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep. Roy Takumi, and John Komeiji.

The launch of phase II of the “55 by ’25” campaign is celebrated by (L to R): Senator Jill Tokuda, Dr. GG Weisenfeld, David Lassner, Karen Lee, Kathryn Matayoshi, John La Forgia, Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep. Roy Takumi, and John Komeiji.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that by 2018, 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require some college, and according to the U.S. Census, just under 42 percent of Hawaii’s adults currently hold a two- or four-year college degree.  This leaves a 23 percent skills gap; an alarming percentage to Hawaii’s educational leaders.

In order for Hawaii to meet the challenges of an increasingly global economy, the Hawaii P-20 Council established a goal for 55 percent of Hawaii’s working age adults to have a two- or four-year college degree by the year 2025. Stressing the need for community-wide participation, civic leaders illustrated ways everyone – from parents and educators to businesses and community organizations – can help achieve this goal.

Governor Neil Abercrombie; Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent of Hawaii State Department of Education; David Lassner, Interim President of the University of Hawaii System; GG Weisenfeld, Director of Executive Office on Early Learning; John La Forgia, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Hawaii Pacific Health; Karen Lee, Executive Director of Hawaii P-20 and Richard Mizusawa, UH Manoa student and Chair of the UH Student Caucus all shared details on what is currently being done in support of this campaign, ways the community can help, and the myriad of benefits a more educated workforce means for our local economy.

The effort is also being supported by the Hawaii State Legislature, as the news conference closed with a joint House and Senate certificate presented by Senator Jill Tokuda and Representative Roy Takumi.

Continue reading

Gov. Abercrombie to Honor Exceptional Community Contributors During Waimea’s Annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is scheduled to join the celebration of Waimea’s Japanese heritage by planting flowering cherry trees in honor of exceptional community contributors during the 21st Annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.  

 

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” and artist Rani Denise Ulrich of Keauhou

“Love These Cherry Blossoms!” and artist Rani Denise Ulrich of Keauhou

The community festival showcases the blooming of Waimea’s historic 60-year-old cherry trees, which are primarily located near town center at Church Row Park but can also be seen in growing numbers throughout the upcountry ranching community. The festival combines the Japanese tradition of viewing these beautiful trees ablaze with pink blossoms – called hanami – with dozens of events, exhibits and interactive presentations that celebrate the community’s Japanese traditions and connections.

Gov. Abercrombie will be a part of the festival’s opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. at Parker Ranch Center, joined by Mayor Billy Kenoi in saluting this year’s festival honorees, Waimea residents Emiko Wakayama and Fumi Bonk.

Then, at 10:30 a.m., the Governor will plant a young flowering cherry tree on the front lawn of Historic Spencer House in honor of lifelong Waimea resident, retired Judge and former Lt. Gov. Nelson Doi.

At 11:15 a.m., the Governor will plant three more flowering cherry trees on the front lawn of Waimea’s Department of Agriculture building at the entry to the Lalamilo Farmlots. The trees will honor the three generations of Japanese families that turned Lalamilo’s arid, rocky lands into the highly productive leafy greens and other fresh produce “food basket” of the state.

The community is invited to join the tree plantings, which are intended to also contribute to the original vision of Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival founders who wanted to encourage the addition of more of the flowering trees along the main roadways through this cool upcountry community.

The tree plantings are two of dozens of activities and events at venues throughout Waimea on festival day. Other festivities include Japanese and multi-cultural performances and exhibits of art and traditional dolls, hands-on demonstrations of bonsai, origami and mochi pounding, presentations of the exquisite traditional tea ceremony, plus sake tasting and the offering of a wide array of popular Japanese foods. Look for pink banners identifying event locations sprawling from the Parker Ranch Center to the Hawaiian Homestead Farmer’s Market on Hwy. 19.

The annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is sponsored by many Waimea community groups, churches, temples, clubs and businesses in partnership with the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation Arts and Culture Division.

NEHLA to Receive $13 Million in Capital Improvement Funds – Abercrombie Releases More CIP Funds

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $28.3 million in capital improvement project (CIP) funds administered by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). More than $13 million of these CIP funds will go toward improvements to Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) facilities on Hawaii Island.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA)

“A successful test-bed for applied research, demonstration, testing and evaluation, NELHA is a driver of innovation, economic development, and job creation on the Big Island and for our entire state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Investments in these and other facilities and programs will further opportunities to advance our energy sustainability, diversify our economy, and keep us on course toward long-term economic viability.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

NELHA

$9,694,000 – Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) Frontage Road and New Intersection Connections, Hawaii Island – Construction of a 0.8-mile frontage road and new connections to the Kaiminani Drive and Makako Bay Drive intersections on Queen Kaahumanu Highway

$2,323,000 – NELHA Seawater System Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Design and construction to provide a 28-inch warm water connector to the independent North and South systems, which currently transfer only cold water; upgrades will also create a backup system to transfer warm water in case of a catastrophic failure of the current warm water system

$1,000,000 (in addition to $3,000,000 in federal grant funds) – NELHA Alternative Energy and Biotechnology Incubator, Hawaii Island – Renovation of the administrative building; this project will increase NELHA’s utilization of 10,000 square feet by converting open space into leasable office space

Other

$7,000,000 – Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund (DURF), statewide – Additional workforce and affordable housing projects; DURF is used for the acquisition of real property, primarily for the development and construction of residential properties, and interim and permanent loans to developers at below-market rates to offer incentives for workforce and affordable housing development across the state

$3,000,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) Import-Export Step-Up Incubator, Mauka Renovation, Oahu – Renovation of the FTZ incubator; renovations will increase the FTZ No. 9’s utilization of the building by converting 30,000 square feet of open space into leasable office space, common conference rooms, and training areas; the current office space is being used at 100 percent capacity (an additional $3,000,000 in federal funds have been awarded and appropriated for the construction of this project through a competitive Economic Development Administration grant)

$2,200,000 – Foreign-Trade Zone Pier 2 Facility Roof Repairs, Oahu – Repairs to roof, gutters, gutter drains, skylight panels, and perimeter eaves, as well as waterproofing the parapet wall of the facility; repairs will eliminate continued water damage in tenant offices and merchandise storage areas, improve structural integrity of the building, and increase available lease space within the warehouse

$1,855,000 – Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) Community Development Districts, Oahu – DBEDT operational costs for 19 permanent, project-funded staff positions for fiscal year 2014

$1,300,000 – Waiahole Water System Improvements, Oahu – Design improvements to the Waiahole Water System; the existing booster pump and key sections of the existing water main need to be upgraded to meet fire flow and Board of Water Supply requirements

Governor Abercrombie Affirms Hawaii’s Fiscal Health in State of the State Address

In his fourth State of the State Address before the Hawaii Legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie emphasized the state’s restored financial stability, along with his administration’s long-term plan to sustain it, as an opportunity to act with confidence on key investments in Hawaii’s future. Areas highlighted by the Governor included efforts to expand early childhood education; tax relief and support for seniors; an increase in the minimum wage; and collaborative efforts to address homelessness, climate change, and invasive species.

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

“I am able to report to you, our state government’s financial house now stands on solid ground,” Gov. Abercrombie said, extending his appreciation to legislators, public employees, local businesses, and the people of Hawaii for sharing in the tough decisions and sacrifices that made the state’s unprecedented financial turnaround possible. “We are now entering a new phase. The administration’s package and supplemental budget do not rely on any new taxes or fees. On the contrary, I believe we may be able to reduce taxes in key areas. We also have the resources to deliver services to the people of Hawaii while living within our means.”

The Governor reaffirmed his administration’s steadfast commitment to early childhood development and education, saying he looks forward to building upon his ongoing initiatives by strengthening relationships with the private and nonprofit sectors. “Our plan is to build and strengthen Hawaii’s mixed-delivery system of early learning programs,” he said. “Community-based preschools are now and will be a key component.”

Gov. Abercrombie also emphasized the necessity to match investments in building this foundation with consideration of ways to promote security and dignity for Hawaii’s seniors. To provide practical and immediate benefits, the Governor proposed to:

  • exempt any presently taxed income from all sources for taxpayers age 65 and older with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $25,000, $35,000 for seniors who are heads of households, or $45,000 for seniors joint filing (affecting approximately 25,000 Hawaii seniors);
  • double the current refundable food/excise tax credit for taxpayers 65 years or older whose AGI is less than $50,000 (affecting approximately 110,000 Hawaii seniors); and
  •  increase the Kupuna Care budget by $4.2 million and make it permanent (enabling seniors to remain in and receive care in their homes – an investment that will prove beneficial as our senior population ages, grows in numbers, and lives longer).

“These proposals address the practical everyday reality of expenses for seniors, provide across-the-board fairness in application, can take effect immediately, and fit comfortably into our long-term financial stabilization plan,” he said.

In addition, the Governor announced that his administration will be submitting a bill to increase the minimum wage to at least $8.75 starting in January 2015. Average weekly earnings have increased 16 percent since 2007, while the minimum wage has remained unchanged. Currently, 21 other states plus the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than Hawaii while minimum wage earners in the state are confronted by much higher living costs.

Addressing the “myth” that increases to the minimum wage only benefit entry-level workers, the Governor cited that 85 percent of minimum wage earners are 21 years old or older. He added that the last four times the minimum wage was raised, the number of jobs increased by an average of 2.2 percent over the following 12 months.

To address the ongoing issue of homelessness, the Governor urged legislators to join him in support of the action plan submitted by the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, a first-of-its-kind body established by Gov. Abercrombie in 2011.

“Mayors and county councils across the state are united in coming to grips with this issue,” he said. “On Oahu, where the need is greatest, we could not have a better partner than Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council led by Council Chair Ernie Martin. “We must now deliver on the Council’s plan; for example, by giving support to the ‘Housing First’ program, which houses and cares for the chronically homeless and those who suffer from a disability.”

Recognizing Hawaii’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the Governor, recently appointed to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, announced that he will be holding Resilient Hawaii Forums this year to engage stakeholders and create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. The forums will build upon the significant progress already achieved by the state Office of Planning in updating Hawaii’s Ocean Resources Management Plan, and call on the state’s new sustainability coordinator to work across department lines for planning.

The Governor also emphasized the need to protect Hawaii’s environment from invasive species, endorsing legislative initiatives proposing up to $5 million to meet operating costs of invasive species programs. In addition, his administrative package this session will include additional support for watershed protection, farming infrastructure and invasive species management.

The Governor concluded his address by remembering the late Loretta Fuddy, a lifelong supporter and advocate of public health measures. Recalling her affection and advocacy for families and children, the Governor announced his intent to request additional funding for the Department of Health’s Early Intervention Services. The program provides critical services to children with developmental delays from birth to three years of age, as well as positive intervention in the crucial areas of cognitive and physical function, social and emotional well-being and adaptive skills.

“Loretta Fuddy was their champion,” the Governor said. “I am asking for specific attention to make funding for Early Intervention Services a priority. This will serve as a fitting tribute and appropriate legacy to honor Loretta. There will be lasting benefits for the affected families and children – the children she loved and cared for passionately to her last day.”

The entire text of the State of the State Address is posted on the Governor’s website, http://governor.hawaii.gov. Link directly to the address here: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/2014-state-of-the-state-address/

Statement Regarding Auditor’s Report – “…Report, however, relied on outdated information…”

“The Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to eliminating all fraud, waste and abuse. The Department appreciates the assistance of the Legislature and the State Auditor’s Office to help identify areas to reduce medical assistance program costs and to improve program integrity,” said DHS Director Patricia McManaman. “The Auditor’s Report, however, relied on outdated information and did not recognize the Department’s substantial progress under the Abercrombie Administration to enhance program integrity and eliminate abuses,” said McManaman.

Department of Human Services

Since the 2011 federal report was issued, the DHS has implemented new systems, processes, screening and enrollment requirements, contractual requirements for health plans, and launched a new eligibility system, KOLEA — all with the goal of reducing fraud and waste.

The DHS is seeking funds from the 2014 Legislature for an additional investigator, fraud auditor and program integrity manager. Funding also is being sought for an asset verification IT system, which will interface with KOLEA. The verification system will improve program integrity for all individuals still subject to asset verification.

The Auditor’s Report expressly recognizes that Hawaii’s Medicaid program fares well when compared to peer states in the rest of the nation. It also notes that DHS has managed to control its costs on a per-enrollee basis even in the face of growing Medicaid enrollment. In 2010, Hawaii’s per-enrollee costs were 19 percent lower than the average among peer states.

Hawaii’s efforts to control costs did not come at the expense of quality. In 2013, the Commonwealth Fund ranked Hawaii as the state with the best health care system for low income individuals. “The Med-QUEST staff is dedicated to providing timely access to quality care for beneficiaries, while assuring proper oversight of taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to assure program integrity throughout the Department,” said McManaman.

An estimated 301,000 individuals are enrolled in the Hawaii Medicaid program, which is administered through the Department of Human Services.

For more information about the Department of Human Services, Med-QUEST Division visit http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/mqd.

Governor Abercrombie Shares 2010-2013 Administration Accomplishments

In anticipation of his fourth State of the State Address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie shared his administration’s accomplishments over the past three years with the state Legislature, news media and the general public.

Click to read

Click to read

The accomplishments highlight the Abercrombie Administration’s commitment to growing a sustainable economy, investing in people, and transforming state government.

“This administration has made significant strides in restoring the state’s fiscal health, strengthening the local economy, and paving the way for universal access to preschool in Hawaii. Prior to my State of the State Address, I felt it important to take stock and review our progress in order to gain perspective and guide our way forward,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “None of these accomplishments would be possible without dedicated and creative public employees, who work tirelessly, each and every day, to make Hawaii a better place for all of us.”

The highlighted accomplishments are available on the Governor’s website at: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/2010-2013-abercrombie-administration-accomplishments/

The Governor’s State of the State Address is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Hawaii State Capitol, House Chambers.

Dear Hawaii Pharmacies – Re: Expedited Partner Therapy

Dear Hawaii Pharmacies:

On July 1, 2013, Governor Abercrombie signed SB 655, SD2, HD2, CD1 into law (Act 250, SLH 2013 – see PDF of the new law below).

Act 250

This new law allows health professionals, subject to certain requirements, to treat the partners of patients diagnosed as having certain sexually transmitted diseases by dispensing or prescribing medication to the partners without examining the partners. The language in this new law also allows pharmacists to fill a prescription and dispense the antibiotic where a specific patient’s name is not indicated but written as “Expedited Partner Therapy” or “EPT”.

If a customer wishes to amend the “Expedited Partner Therapy” or “EPT” prescription by naming a specific individual, the pharmacist must first obtain authorization from the prescriber before issuing a new prescription with the specific patient’s name.

Also covered under the new law are prescriptions that are electronically transmitted to the pharmacy and prescriptions written by an “out-of-state practitioner”.

This new law also included pharmacists under the definition of “Health professional” and requires that the “Health professional” that dispenses or prescribe expedited partner antibiotic therapy distribute an information sheet developed by the Hawaii State Department of Health (“DOH”), to the patient.

The DOH has developed the attached information sheets, which are also available on their web page at http://health.hawaii.gov/std-aids/for-providers/ept-expedited-partner-therapy/.

If you have any questions pertaining to the “Expedited Partner Therapy” or “EPT” prescriptions, you may call the DOH, Food and Drug Branch at 586-4725.

If you have any questions pertaining to the information sheets, you may call the DOH, STD/AIDS Prevention Branch at 733-9281.

Your anticipated cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.