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Updates from Sen. Hirono (July 28-Aug. 1)



Sen. Mazie K. Hirono has announced the award of $12,339,016 in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant funding to support Native Hawaiian health care centers across Hawaii.

These grants are essential to the continued operation of Native Hawaiian health care centers, enabling them to pay for rent, salaries, various overhead, as well as assist in providing medications for qualified patients.

“Native Hawaiian health care centers are a crucial thread in the fabric of our island communities. This funding will go to Papa Ola Lokahi and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems on each island, which provide vital services for Hawaii’s indigenous population,” said Hirono. “I will continue to advocate for this and other programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians.”

The funding is being distributed through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The various Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems are:

· Hoola Lahui Hawaii (Kauai)

· Hui Malama Ola Na Oiwi (Hawaii Island)

· Hui No Ke Ola Pono (Maui)

· Ke Ola Mamo (Oahu)

· Na Puuwai (Molokai)

· Papa Ola Lokahi (Oahu)

Together, these health care providers have served as many as 126,000 Native Hawaiians.



Hirono voted to pass two major bills to help improve access to health care for our nation’s veterans and also continue key funding that improves and strengthens Hawaii roads while supporting 6,896 jobs in the islands.

The Senate’s passage of H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care Act, and H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, sends both of these important bills to President Obama for his signature.

“Today was a good day for our veterans, and for the thousands of men and women in Hawaii who work on building our roads and bridges and the commuters and businesses that travel on them each day. The bipartisan veterans’ legislation approved today is an important first step toward fixing our broken commitment to our veterans. It will help them to quickly get the care they need, hold any bad actors at VA accountable, and invest in the facilities, doctors, and other personnel necessary to care for our veterans with dignity.” Hirono said. “I’m also glad that the Senate voted to keep funding for highway and bridge projects in Hawaii and across the country from being interrupted.”

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Hirono was one of the bipartisan negotiators who worked to develop the final legislation which includes important provisions to benefit Hawaii veterans.

Hawaii benefits in the bill include:

· $15,887,370 in authorized funds for the planned VA Advance Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access Center on Oahu.

· Allow for healthcare contracts with the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, community health centers, and DOD.

· Allows veterans who live 40 miles or more from a VA health facility and are unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days the option to see a private health care professional, including Medicare providers.

· An exception to the 40-mile rule for veterans who are required to travel by air, boat, or ferry to a VA medical facility. Many Hawaii veterans, who live within 40 miles from a VA medical center, are required to overcome many obstacles and travel all day to receive care at a VA medical facility. This bill would offer them the choice to see a private health care provider within their community.

· Provides University of Hawaii veteran students the in-state tuition rate beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.



Hirono applauded the confirmation of Erika Moritsugu for the position of Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Moritsugu was confirmed by voice vote.

“I’ve known Erika and her family for many years and it’s no surprise that she has been confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at HUD,” said Hirono. “She has committed her career to public service and has also served Hawaii with distinction as Deputy Legislative Director for Sen. Akaka. Erika brings tremendous skill and talent to all that she undertakes and I look forward to working with her in her new role.”

Erika Lizabeth Moritsugu previously served as the Deputy Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Prior to that, Moritsugu was the Deputy Legislative Director for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii from 2010 to 2012.

Moritsugu has also worked in several capacities at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. She has held positions at Hogan and Hartson, LLP; The Wexler Group; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the City and County of Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office. Moritsugu is a Member of the Board of Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors.

She is a 2004 recipient of the Tahirih Justice Center Pro Bono Award and a 2001 Bryce Harlow Foundation Scholar.

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