Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Duke Aiona’s Policy Agenda: Health Care by grassroothawaii
September 24, 2010, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Hideo Hikida

Part 2 in a series which involves me reading through, analyzing and commenting on the Gubernatorial candidate’s various policy agendas. Yesterday, we went through Duke Aiona’s policy agenda on Transportation. Today, we look at Aiona’s policy agenda on Health Care. Both the Transportation and Health policy agendas were released by Aiona on 9/22/10

With the passage of the Obama Health Care plan, the nation has been relatively aware of the concepts of health care and how it affects them. In the State of Hawaii, the health care issue is especially prevalent, mainly because of the semi-monopoly that exists with health insurance providers within this state, as well as the deteriorating quality of our hospitals today.

Duke Aiona’s vision in terms of Health Care is first and foremost, is to have Hawaii citizens lead “healthy, productive lives with access to affordable, high-quality health care that is available to all.” As governor, Aiona aims to

  1. promote preventive approaches that focus on diet, exercise and regular medical checkups
  2. Develop state policies that keep health insurance affordable and increase the choices for health insurance
  3. encourage policies to attract and retain medical personnel, such as more general practitioners, including tackling the cost of malpractice insurance
  4. Implement the recommendations of the legislative study on the future of the Hawaii State Hospital Corporation
  5. Continue to operate the State Hospital in a manner that keeps the community safe and respects the dignity of those suffering from mental illnesses who must stay there.

Aiona has long been a proponent of healthy living, and he believes that the State has spent too much money treating the consequences of unhealthy living lifestyles. With increased promotion of healthy living in schools, workplaces and homes, Aiona hopes to be able to discourage bad lifestyles, and encourage eating and living healthily. Aiona intends to further promote healthy living by working with the Insurance Commissioner to recommend health insurance premiums that provide discounts for those who exercise, do not smoke, limit alcohol consumption and get regular check-ups to detect and treat problems early. He will also request that the State Employer-Union Trust fund follow suit. To me, the key point that I see here is that Aiona will “try.” All of these measures that he lays out are not contingent on Aiona himself but are also contingent on the approval of other bureaucrats that might not share his vision. Moreover, in a nutshell, one of Aiona’s campaign visions is to change the way of life of citizens. Call me a pessimist but what good is 4 years in office going to do about a lifetime of choices people have made. People who smoke will continue to smoke, people who drink will continue to drink and fatty, greasy foods will continue to exist. Encouraging people to not do any of the above is simply just that; encouragement. Lofty and ambitious goal: yes. Attainable: highly unlikely.

One point that I believe should be brought to attention is the fact that Aiona intends present to legislation the idea of phasing out the general excise tax on health care services, starting with the removing the tax on over-the-counter medications. Anytime someone feels like cutting the GE tax, I get happy, so that’s a plus for me; as well as the fact that Aiona is a supporter of the Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act, and will work to make sure that any national health care initiatives do not interfere with said Act. The only sort of reservation I hold is that if Aiona does cut the GE tax, will he make up for the lost money in the form of other tax hikes? What do you think?

One last thing that I wanted to talk about. Aiona states that he will continue to fight for medical malpractice insurance reform for the sake of getting more medical professionals into the State of Hawaii. I’m glad that he recognizes that there is a severe shortage of medical professionals in this state and that MMI laws and regulations are a big reason for this. Through the reform of MMI, patients will not have to pay for more necessary tests and procedures that doctors prescribe due to the practice of “defensive medicine.” With MMI reform, doctors in Hawaii will no longer have to practice with fear of being sued, thus (possibly) leading to quicker diagnosis and better, more efficient practice.

Is there anything within the Health Care policy agenda that strikes you as interesting? Post them in the comments below


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