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Green speaking up for keiki health care

By KARIN STANTON/ Contributing Editor

Incoming Senator Josh Green is making his case for universal health insurance coverage for children ahead of next month’s Legislative session.

In an newsletter issued Thursday, Dec. 4, Green said children with healthcare coverage are healthier, do better in school, and become more productive members of society requiring less state resources. Alternately, he said, uninsured individuals place a financial burden on an already ailing hospital system.

“It is the responsible and compassionate thing to do for our children and it is a good investment,” said Green, who is an emergency room physician and made health care issues his top priority during his tenure in the state House of Representatives.

Green said Hawaii has done a better job providing affordable health insurance to it’s people than virtually any other state, primarily because the Prepaid Health Act of 1974 mandates employers provide health coverage for workers who work more than half-time.  

Today, approximately 10 percent of Hawaii residents are uninsured, most of whom are part-time workers and younger individuals. The uninsured rates for children has hovered between 3 percent and 5 percent for the last several years. 

While a member of the state’s House of Representatives, Green worked with a coalition of stakeholders to initiate a plan to cover every child in the state.

Key players in this attempt at universal coverage for children included Hawaii Covering Kids, the state Legislature, the Department of Human Services/Governor’s Office, the Hawaii Primary Care Association and HMSA.  

In 2006, the Keiki Care law was passed to ensure healthcare coverage for every child in Hawaii – either through Quest, Keiki Care or employer programs – and ultimately covered 2,000 children, Green said.

When the global recession hit, the administration was forced to cut the Keiki Care program temporarily from the budget. This cost was $50,000 per month and was matched by HMSA, he said.

Green said he and the other stakeholders now are reaching out to the philanthropic community for $600,000 annually to restore Keiki Care. 

“And we continue to rely on the extraordinary efforts of Hawaii Covering Kids, DHS and the Primary Care Association which have kept Hawaii in the top group of states where covering kids with health insurance is concerned,” Green said. 

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One Response to “Green speaking up for keiki health care”

  1. damon says:

    What about those that have insurance… but can’t find a doctor?

    We need to work on the doctor shortage on this island as well!

    You shouldn’t have to take a sick child into the emergency room because no doctors are seeing patients until a few weeks/months away.


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