Friday, December 13, 2013

Lawmakers may take over nonprofit Health Connector, Trump, conspiracy theorists grab Fuddy crash debate, Gabbard fights TSA fee hike, Hawaii shipping in price-fixing probe, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Obamacare
Hawaii Health Connector website
State lawmakers are considering turning the nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector into a state agency nearly two months after it fumbled the start of the online insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are worried about the sustainability and accountability of the Hawaii Health Connector, the state's quasi-government nonprofit agency that's in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act. Legislators questioned health officials during an informational briefing at the state Capitol on Wednesday. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Health Connector would need to enroll an estimated 10,000 individuals and 40,000 small businesses in health plans in the current fiscal year for the organization to be sustainable after federal funds dry up in 2015, officials told state lawmakers Thursday. Pacific Business News.

A 2014 defense bill passed Thursday by the House includes more than $400 million in military construction projects for the state, focuses on ballistic missile defense and calls for reviews of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting command, including whether operations should be moved from Hawaii to the mainland. The National Defense Authorization Act is a compromise between previously passed House and Senate versions, and now heads to the Senate for approval. Star-Advertiser.

With Congress poised to approve a budget before the end of the year, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard sent a letter to House Budget Committee leaders Tuesday requesting that Hawaii be exempt from Transportation Security Administration fees that would increase by more than double. Star-Advertiser.

An ongoing price fixing case being prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division that involves most of the nation's domestic shipping companies, has led to a half a dozen senior executives going to prison and fines totaling more than $100 million. Now, industry experts say there are hints that Hawaii shipping routes may also be part of the investigation. Hawaii Reporter.

As the Obama family is likely packing for their annual vacation to Hawaii, the birther movement is pouncing on yet another conspiracy theory about the President's Hawaii birth certificate. HuffPost Hawaii.

Two survivors of the plane crash off Molokai were sitting directly behind Hawaii Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy when the aircraft went down Wednesday afternoon.  Fuddy died in the crash. KITV4.

A 70-year-old survivor of the Makani Kai crash Wednesday said state Health Director Loretta Fuddy was conscious before he struck out to swim to Kalaupapa. C. Phillip Hollstein Jr. said he helped everyone out of the plane, was the last one off, and recalls seeing Fuddy in the water. Star-Advertiser.

The family of Loretta Fuddy, Hawaii’s Department of Health director who died in yesterday’s Molokai crash, came forward to thank the community and emergency response members, who saved eight other victims in the crash. Civil Beat.

Alan Downer arrived early this month in the Kapolei offices of the State Historic Preservation Division, an agency that has been under the gun over the past several years. Downer, the new SHPD administrator, is contending with the pressures of bringing his office into compliance with National Park Service requirements concerning records management and other issues, so that it would not lose federal funding. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

At dawn, as traffic jams snake through the Koolau mountain range, the Kawainui Marsh offers a soothing respite from the bustle of Honolulu. The state’s largest freshwater wetland spans more than 800 acres in Kailua on the east side of the island. Some residents fear that could change if the state adopts a proposed land use plan that allows for the construction of several buildings and parking lots on the periphery of the marsh. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

The West Hawaii Community Health Center at Kealakehe moved one step closer to fruition Thursday as dozens feted its ground breaking. Construction of the medical and dental facility’s nearly 11,000-square-foot first phase within the Lai opua Community Center Complex is expected to get underway next month with a projected opening date to patients of May 2015. West Hawaii Today.

A delayed sale of the Naniloa Volcanoes Hotel in U.S. Bankruptcy Court is expected to be completed next week, though the buyer has alleged that hotel equipment and inventory is missing from the oceanfront Hilo property. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

While the Maui County Council refuses to turn over minutes of a closed session to discuss an investigation into the demolition of the old Wailuku Post Office, the county has gone to court to try to keep the state Office of Information Practices from issuing an opinion about a possible Sunshine Law violation. Maui News.

When Loretta Fuddy took over as director of the state Department of Health, one of the first things she did was help save the Maui County medevac helicopter from falling victim to the budget ax. On Wednesday that same helicopter carried her body and survivors of a commuter plane crash off the Kalau­papa peninsula for further medical treatment. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai
The cost of cars, and dumping, may be on the rise soon. The Kauai County Council is proposing to increase the county’s disposal fees as well as its motor vehicle weight tax, although not every council member is wild about the idea of raising costs. Garden Island.

Molokai

Kalaupapa residents detail Health Director's last day. Hawaii News Now.