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Hawaii bets right on health care ruling


Hawaii bet correctly the Supreme Court would uphold the bulk of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul but plans a full analysis to see how the lengthy ruling affects plans to implement the law.

The Thursday ruling upheld key provisions including the hotly-debated requirement that nearly every American carry health insurance.

Hawaii Healthcare Transformation Coordinator Beth Giesting told The Associated Press earlier this week that state officials thought about how justices might rule, but kept moving as if would be upheld.

Giesting and Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie planned a news conference to discuss the ruling.

The biggest change for states in the ruling may be in Medicaid. The justices ruled the federal government can expand the program if it doesn’t threaten states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part.

Hawaii Health Care Summary:

NUMBER OF UNINSURED: 97,000 state residents are uninsured, or 7.7 percent, according to 2010 U.S. Census data. The rate is the nation’s second-lowest.

WHERE THE STATE STANDS: Hawaii had been moving at full speed in anticipation the overhaul will be upheld. It joined several states last year in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the law. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, said at the time the law preserved the best elements of Hawaii’s long-standing health care statutes. The state also used a $300,000 private grant to create a state job for a coordinator to implement the overhaul. Hawaii plans to develop its own insurance exchange, a key component of the federal overhaul.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW: Beth Giesting, the state’s Health Care Transformation Coordinator, said earlier this week the Aloha State anticipated different scenarios of how the Supreme Court might rule but expected the law to be upheld and moved forward in that way. Hawaii’s most immediate goals under its current administration, she said, are to implement a payment system that focuses on quality care and good outcomes and upgrading the state’s technology for health information.

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