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About 21,000 in Hawaii will lose Medicaid under federal reforms

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:26 p.m. HST, Mar 11, 2013

Roughly 21,000 people in Hawaii who were previously covered under Medicaid will need to buy their own health insurance once President Barack Obama's sweeping federal health care overhaul takes effect next year, the chief executive of the Hawaii Primary Care Association told a state Senate committee today.

Robert Hirokawa, of the Hawaii Primary Care Association, said during an informational briefing of the Senate Health Committee that the group represents a so-called "gray" zone that lawmakers should consider as they approach implementing the law.

The gap represents people whose income ranges from roughly 38 percent above federal poverty levels to two times the poverty line.

Hirokawa said single people earning $18,000 per year — 138 percent of federal poverty levels — can expect to pay $75 per month on insurance premiums. Those making twice the poverty level, or $26,000 per year, can expect to pay $194 per month.

The association represents roughly three dozen clinics throughout the islands that provide primary care for patients. The nonprofit clinics are considered an important part of the health care system because patients can be treated at costs far lower than emergency rooms.

Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor who represents the west side of the Big Island, said the state needs to help close the gaps.

He said he saw an 8-year-old patient early today with a low-grade fever who clearly should have used a health clinic rather than pay $400 for an emergency room visit.

He said in addition to figuring out coverage details, the state needs to better steer people toward cheaper clinics rather than their more expensive neighbors.

"You know you have my support to expand services and to make sure the money goes to whatever possible health service," Green said.

Officials from several clinics statewide expressed worries that people will have to choose between paying for health care and paying for other essentials like food, utilities or gas to get to work. They told Green and state Sen. Rosalyn Baker that if people choose not to buy insurance, the state will see more emergency room visits.

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Skyler wrote:
Overuse of emergency rooms is an ongoing issue. Often times, the non-insured head there because they're not able to be seen anywhere else. Most Drs will not see an uninsured patient - especially a poor one. Also, people often feel worse at night, which I think is a driving factor for the after-hour visits. I don't think that there are many '24 hour clinics' around, so they go to the emergency room. If there was an acute care clinic inside the hospitals, I'm sure that would help to reduce the burden - and the cost - of the visits.
on March 11,2013 | 05:46PM
soundofreason wrote:
They won't buy insurance because the penalty is less than the insurance premiums. But O'bama already knows that.
on March 11,2013 | 06:45PM
mijlive wrote:
somehow "told you so" just does'nt say enough
on March 11,2013 | 08:30PM
hawaiikone wrote:
This is only the tip of the iceberg. The hidden taxes in obamacare is where he's really socking it to us. You're right though, no sense telling his fans told you so, they just want their checks to keep rolling in...
on March 11,2013 | 09:52PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Good. Means testing works. There is no reason a single person making 18k can't pay $75 a month for health insurance. Man up and show some personnal responsibility for the greater good. No reason he/she should get free medical care. Let them pony up a few bucks.
on March 11,2013 | 06:45PM
Pocho wrote:
Barrack Obama is hitting the middle class pockets with this. YOU VOTED HIM IN, you pay!
on March 11,2013 | 07:07PM
busterb wrote:
$18K is middle class? In what 3rd world nation?
on March 11,2013 | 07:56PM
LanaUlulani wrote:


This is a direct result of ObamaCare ObamaTax.

Thanks to Obama and the other politrickans who pushed ObamaCare ObamaTax onto us... along with their ENABLERS. Now these people will be doing without. They would have been better off if OBAMA DID NOTHING but NO.... Obama is and continues to be MAHA'OI. Rudely IMPOSING onto others and now innocent people SUFFER.

on March 11,2013 | 07:24PM
MightyMakiki wrote:
Finally some action. But you wait. The QUEST rolls will tripple, cuz no one is going to buy insurance. You wait. Plus some business will just drop their current coverage and pay the fine. Tha't what I would do.
on March 11,2013 | 08:13PM
pandadaddy wrote:
Bummer. Now the able bodied leaches will have to go out and get a job.
on March 11,2013 | 09:30PM
9ronboz wrote:
Obamacare. Now you know
on March 11,2013 | 09:44PM
South76 wrote:
What other details do we need to know about this obamacare tax plan...as clown pelosi said, we need to pass is to know the details.....well folks you voted for these clowns and now we are stuck with paying a tax that will not cover the basic needs. Is that why so many of the unions that were pushing for this tax are now asking for exemptions because they know more of the details of this monstrosity.....
on March 11,2013 | 09:58PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Hopefully, ALL abusers of the Medicaid system will be weeded out and forced to pay properly for their medical service. Medicaid has always been a huge corrupt system.
on March 12,2013 | 08:58AM
AndrewWalden wrote:
DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4418/DHS-Thousands-of-ghost-names-on-Hawaii-Medicare-Medicaid-Rolls.aspx
on March 12,2013 | 09:44AM
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