Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

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Lawmakers to hold hearings on Hawaii Health Connector

On Friday, the state Capitol will be open for public tours of artwork

By Cathy Bussewitz

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:40 p.m. HST, Mar 30, 2014

Lawmakers in Hawaii have been pushing and prodding hundreds of bills through the Legislature, and this week is no exception, as the Legislature enters the final month of the session.

In addition to the usual voting and discussion, there also will be several hearings on the Hawaii Health Connector, the state's troubled exchange under President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul. The exchange is rushing to sign people up for health insurance before a Monday deadline.

Here's are five things ahead at the Hawaii Legislature this week:

>> Funding the Health Connector: The Senate Ways and Means committee is weighing whether to allow for up to $15 million in support for the state's beleaguered health exchange. The state would get the money from fees on insurers or general fund appropriations. The committee is planning to make a decision on the bill (HB 2529) Monday at 10 a.m. 

Jan Yamane, Hawaii's acting state auditor, planned to present preliminary results from an audit of the exchange Wednesday, but the hearing may be postponed until interim director Tom Matsuda returns from a trip to Washington to testify to a congressional committee about the exchange's problems. Yamane says she has information from the Connector about its finances.

>> Resolutions deadline: Thursday marks a deadline for concurrent resolutions to cross chambers, meaning lawmakers in the House and Senate must vote on whether to send them to their counterparts across the Capitol. Concurrent resolutions in the pipeline include a variety of measures, including one asking state agencies to encourage young voters to register to vote and another asking Congress to make reforms to address sexual assault and harassment problems in the military.

>> Hearings: Lawmakers plan a full slate of hearings to talk about issues on everything from housing to state finances, violent crime and Hawaii's environment. A joint hearing of two key Senate committees on Tuesday will consider a bill to allow charter school employees to receive state benefits and make it illegal for children under age 18 to use tanning beds.

>> Decking deadline: The deadline for bills to make it through committee in their non-originating chamber (that is, for House bills to get through Senate committees and vice-versa) arrives Friday, ensuring a flurry of last-minute hearings. It's also an indicator, by what isn't scheduled, of which bills are going to die quietly after passing one chamber.

>> Capitol artwork: Friday marks the sixth year that the statehouse will open its doors for Art at the Capitol, an evening for visitors to take a free self-guided tour of the Hawaii-made art that hangs throughout the building. Fifty-four offices, including those of the governor and lieutenant governor, will be open for public viewing. Also, there will be snacks.


Associated Press writer Sam Eifling contributed to this report.

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sailfish1 wrote:
News is that the health exchange in Connecticut is working smoothly and four other states are considering adopting Connecticut's technlogy. Since Hawaii botched up their try to get its Health Connector to work, Hawaii would be prudent to be the fifth state to try to adopt Connecticut's system.
on March 31,2014 | 12:00AM
inlanikai wrote:
Agree. At minimum they should not perpetuate what has failed and shows no signs of being fixed properly and explore alternatives.
on March 31,2014 | 02:07AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Without going into my thoughts about this law, I question why it costs $15M/year to operate the health exchange. That sounds like an excessive amount of money. It would be interesting to see where that money goes in Mr. Matsuda's budget.
on March 31,2014 | 08:36AM
st1d wrote:
Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.
on March 31,2014 | 08:51AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Things we will probably not see:

- A real effort to identify those who were responsible for the enormous waste of public money on a system that was obviously inadequate and flawed.

- Accountability for those who remained silent while our tax money was wasted - the consultant, the government team, the ones who worked on a system knowing it was junk.

- A ban on future contracts for the the politically connected company with terrible performance record that bamboozled the residents of Hawaii.

Leadership by our congressional team o actually resolving the problems.

on March 31,2014 | 09:06AM
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