Monday, March 12, 2007

March 26 program: Utu Langi: Update on the First Step shelter program and the H5 program

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.

11:30 Luncheon: Variety Sandwiches, salad, Dessert by Eloise. $5.00 donation

11:45 Welcome, introductions and remarks, Larry Geller, President

12:00 Program: The Homeless. : Utu Langi, Director, Kakaako’s the First Step Shelter Program and the H5 Program.

Utu Langi has done more perhaps than any other person on Oahu to raise awareness of the homelessness. During Homeless Awareness Week 2006, Langi completed his second 140-mile, 10-day walk around the island to raise money. Langi founded Hawaii Helping the Hungry Have Hope, or H-5 program which provided more than 25,000 meals a year to homeless individuals.

Problems with a pre-paid funeral plan?

Have you or a relative had problems with a pre-paid funeral plan?

We want to hear your story.

Please call Funeral Consumers Alliance Hawaii 638-5580.

March 21: Caregivers Day at the State Capitol

Celebrate family caregiving and encourage legislators to support them through legislation. Come join us March 21, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the rotunda, street level. Kokua Council will have a table. There will be other exhibits by organizations involving aging/caregiving services. Also the 2007 Aging Issues booklet featuring active legislation that supports family caregivers will be distributed.

Legislative Scoreboard: Bills still alive halfway through the 2007 session

To read the bill status or text, click on the bill number. To receive an email whenever the status changes (for example, when a hearing is scheduled), click on "track." Information on bill tracking via email is available at

SB1068 (track) RELATING TO CAMPAIGN SPENDING. Increases amount that may be spent per voter for state and county elections.

HB661 (track) Creates comprehensive public funding for elections to any county council; establishes qualifications, limitations on funding and use of funds, reporting requirements.

HB817 (track) RELATING TO SAGE PLUS. Appropriates funds for operating costs to support and expand the Sage PLUS Program on the neighbor islands.

SB1184 (track) RELATING TO ADULT PROTECTION. Amends dependent adult protective services law by: (1) deleting definition of "dependent adult"; (2) extending protections to persons over 18 years of age if they meet the definition of "vulnerable adult"; (3) enabling the department of human services to investigate and the court to have jurisdiction when reason exists to believe that a vulnerable adult has been abused or is threatened with imminent abuse.

HB1359 (track) RELATING TO THE STATE PHARMACY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. Creates a Hawaii State Pharmacy Assistance program by merging the current State Pharmacy Assistance program which coordinates the Medicare Part D drug benefit and the Hawaii Rx plus program under a single comprehensive Hawaii State Pharmacy Assistance program umbrella. Requires the Department of Human Services to take all steps necessary to enable participation in joint prescription drug purchasing agreements with any other health benefits plan or organization within or outside of this state that agrees to participate in a joint purchasing agreement.

HB825 (track) RELATING TO CAREGIVING. Extends the Joint Legislative Committee on Family Caregiving to June 30, 2008. Expands the focus of the committee to explore a paid family leave program. Provides a broader definition for "family caregiver" for purposes of the Committee.

HB1475 (track)/SB427 (track). Establishes a $50 monthly personal needs allowance for residents of certain care homes.

SB1916 (track) FAMILY CAREGIVERS; OMNIBUS PACKAGE Strengthens support of family caregivers by, extending the joint legislative committee on family caregiving; requiring the executive office on aging to conduct a comprehensive assessment of care recipients' needs and the needs of their family caregivers; and appropriating funds to expand services for care recipients and their family caregivers.

HB325 (track) RELATING TO DENTAL CARE. Expands coverage and funds under the State's Medicaid and QUEST programs to include comprehensive dental care for adults to provide the additional coverage. Appropriates funds for hospital dentistry for the developmentally disabled in the County of Hawaii.

HB1337 (track) RELATING TO THE DEATH CARE INDUSTRY. Provides additional protections for consumers of cemetery or funeral services.

SB12 (track) RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE RATE REGULATION. Prohibits health insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. Requires health care insurers to submit rate filings for approval by the insurance commissioner. Establishes penalties and appeal procedures.

HB357 (track)/SB1191 (track) RELATING TO TRAFFIC SAFETY. Pilot project to test crosswalk safety and programs in the city and county of Honolulu.

HB351 (track) Cameras at dangerous intersections for red light runners.

HB56 (track) RELATING TO HEALTH. Universal Health Care Establishes the Hawaii Health Commission to develop a health plan to provide healthcare coverage for all individuals in the state. Effective July 1, 2020.

President's Letter: March 2007--Time for action to protect pedestrians

Both the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin have covered the series of crosswalk deaths plaguing Honolulu, including the one recently in Makaha. Of the two stories, reporter Gene Park's piece in the SB revealed the greater tragedy: the struggle of residents to get the state Dept. of Transportation to take necessary measures to ensure their safety.

Neither paper mentioned that the DOT knew of the dangers of this crosswalk but has failed to act to protect pedestrians. In August 2001 a flashing crosswalk system was installed at that intersection, but the system was later removed. The installation was described in a DOT press release at the time.

The AARP survey conducted in May 2006 included monitoring of an intersection near Waianae High School that is one or two away from the Alawa Place scene of the fatal Makaha accident. AARP found that "drivers do not obey traffic signals," that drivers "seem to be speeding," that "car speeds are too fast." The monitors observed "unsafe driver behavior."

The monitors also found problems with crossing lights that were too short for people of normal physical ability and other major problems. The same drivers who speed through the monitored intersection zoom through the Alawa Place intersection.

Since the publication of the AARP study it appears that the DOT has done nothing to improve the unsafe conditions identified by the AARP. At testimony at the State Capitol, the best DOT could do was to ask for $1 million dollars to hire a consultant for a study that would delay action until 2010. Instead of explaining what they will do when questioned by legislators, they consistently explained what they can't (or won't) do.

It's time that the City got serious about enforcing the speed laws already on the books.

Drivers would pay attention at crosswalks if they expected they would be ticketed. They'd slow down, too, and obey traffic signals.

A clear message is being sent to drivers: no one is watching you, do what you want. The risk that you'll be caught if you violate speed or other traffic laws day after day, all year long, is so low that it's ok if you do it. An Advertiser front-page story confirms, "57% of Oahu drivers violate crosswalk law." We should not tolerate this. The loss of life on our streets is mostly avoidable. That we do nothing is inexcusable.

Kokua Council calls on the Mayor and the Governor to devise and announce plans to turn this around. There is no budget surplus, dear Governor, if your DOT is paralyzed and unable to do anything unless it gets $1 million from the legislature. Your surplus is a profit earned by neglecting public safety--on the streets, near the dams, and no doubt elsewhere.

Notes from the February 26 program--Current problems in nursing homes: Lynda Johnson

Transferring patients to the mainland is a portend of problems coming fast over the horizon. The fact that by 2020 one in four people will be 60 years or older will dramatically effect the use of social and especially health and medical services. Even though Hawaii has some advantages over the mainland with a higher percentage of older adults living in family settings, there are serious problems when we look at how we will meet the needs of large numbers of the elderly.

The Advertiser article on patient transfers by Queens Hospital points to two issues: bed availability here and a little less apparent, the issues around the type of patients Queens felt they had to transfer.

Beds. We have the lowest number of beds per thousand population over 65. So you shop for beds but in this case you shop for a scarce commodity.

Difficult patients: With waiting lists for any vacancy, nursing homes will select those whose reimbursement is assured, who present no behavior problems, and who require no special treatment for special needs. Especially out of luck because staff has no behavior management training (see February newsletter about the OASIS program) or homes have not the special equipment for the care, are geriatric patients and younger, usually male long-term care patients.