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Many bills undecided during final rush of Legislature

    Michelle Tippens

It’s the final rush in the Legislature, and major decisions are looming on several issues, including the Hawaii Health Connector.

All state-run insurance exchanges are required to be financially sustainable this year, and the federal government has been in discussions with the state about whether the Health Connector will be partially taken over by federal officials.

Hawaii lawmakers are hoping to avoid federal involvement and are setting aside funding for the exchange.

Gov. David Ige, meanwhile, may use a trip to Washington for a White House dinner honoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to meet with federal officials about the Health Connector.

“I’m trying to see if I can squeeze in a couple meetings when I’m up there, looking at” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “and a bunch of other agencies,” Ige said.

“The time is short, but we’re going to try,” he added.

Here are some of the other key issues scheduled for hearings:

— PREGNANCY HELP: Married couples in Hawaii who want help getting pregnant are aided by a state law that requires insurers to cover in vitro fertilization, but singles and same-sex couples are left out. A bill up for debate Monday seeks to expand who can take advantage of the service.

— AUTISM CARE: Advocates want a law requiring insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism. Lawmakers will discuss such a proposal Monday.

— MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Committees are working out the details on how Hawaii might create a system of medical marijuana dispensaries and will continue talks Monday.

— TRANSGENDER BIRTH CERTIFICATES: A bill that would allow transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificates without gender reassignment surgery will be debated Monday.

— STATE BUDGET: The state budget has to be finalized by committees by the end of the week. Lawmakers planned to work through the weekend on and will reconvene to report their progress Tuesday.

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