Hirono Introduces Bill To Extend Emergency Care For Vets, Raises Issue With VA Official

U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono, Jerry Moran (R-KS), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Mark Begich (D-AK), members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, announced new legislation this week to help extend emergency care coverage for veterans.

 Hirono spoke about the bill during today’s Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, bringing the issue of emergency care to the attention of VA officials. VA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Jesse noted to Hirono that the bill raised an “important point” and he would bring her concerns back to VA.


Hirono spoke about the bill during today’s Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, bringing the issue of emergency care to the attention of VA officials. VA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Jesse noted to Hirono that the bill raised an “important point” and he would bring her concerns back to VA.

Currently, a veteran enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system can only be reimbursed for emergency care at a non-VA facility if he or she has received treatment at the VA within the past two years. However, veterans who have recently returned from deployment or live in rural communities often can’t meet this requirement because they have not received even their first VA exam due to a delay in examination appointments at participating facilities. This bipartisan bill – endorsed by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – would waive this pre-requisite and allow our nation’s heroes to be reimbursed for medical care at non-VA facilities.

“For Hawaii veterans in rural Oahu or the neighbor islands who live far from VA facilities, emergency care outside the VA may be their only option,” said Senator Hirono. “Just last week, I met a veteran from Waianae who had a medical emergency while waiting four months for his first appointment at VA. Veterans like him who were denied VA reimbursement would get much needed relief under this legislation. It isn’t fair to punish veterans for waiting times outside their control.”

“Veterans who have served our country with duty and honor deserve access to quality health care when they need it,” Senator Moran said. “They should not be forced to bear the burden of emergency health care costs simply because of exorbitant VA waiting times to see a doctor. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to improving access to care for Kansas veterans. This legislation will provide veterans with the emergency care they deserve.”

“It’s unacceptable for veterans to be denied emergency health care coverage because of bureaucratic red tape caused by inefficiencies in the VA system. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting this commonsense legislation that will ensure that our veterans receive the benefits that they have earned,” said Senator Isakson.

“Our veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve the benefits that they worked hard to earn. This bill provides a much needed fix to close a loophole preventing too many of our veterans from getting reimbursed for emergency room visits. I thank my colleagues for crossing the aisle to make sure our veterans can get the care they need,” said Senator Begich.

The Hirono-Moran-Isakson-Begich bill would give more than 144,000 veterans access to medical treatment without worrying about reimbursement. The VA asked for the statutory authority, granted in this bill, in its FY2014 budget request and has also set aside funds for the change. In addition, H.R.2216, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 27, 2013, would cover any additional costs that the VA will incur.

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Hirono spoke about the bill during today’s Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, bringing the issue of emergency care to the attention of VA officials. VA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Jesse noted to Hirono that the bill raised an “important point” and he would bring her concerns back to VA.

 

University of Hawaii Search for President Narrowed Down to Three Finalist

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents Presidential Selection Committee decided to invite three finalist executive search firms to make in-person presentations to the committee before making a final selection in the search for a new university president. The committee narrowed the field to three candidate firms from the submissions sent in response to the Invitation to Submit Proposals issued on October 4, 2013, at its meeting on October 29 at Bachman Hall at 10 a.m. The three firms will be invited to make presentations to the committee within the next two weeks if possible, and the committee will make a final selection of a firm to assist and advise in the presidential search after interviewing the firms’ representatives.

UH Logo

“The Presidential Selection Committee concluded that further discussion was required with the finalists we identified, and that that discussion should occur in person,” said Selection Committee Chair Regent Carl Carlson. “We’ve asked the firms to show their commitment to the process and belief in their own excellence by coming to present to us at their own expense here in Hawaiʻi. We will make a final decision as soon as possible after these presentations have taken place.”

The finalist firms will not be publicly identified, nor will their names be disclosed to the other finalists, so as to maintain confidentiality and to protect the proprietary nature of the firms’ strategies, concepts, database strength and expertise. “We’re obviously looking for the very best in the next president, and therefore need a firm that understands the unique qualities of Hawaiʻi while providing a high caliber of service. Competitiveness in pricing and a proven track record are also critical components that we are taking into consideration,” said Carlson.

The committee will be responsible for negotiating the best price for services with the firm, in keeping with good stewardship of public funds practices, and will make public the selected firm’s name and fee for services after an agreement has been reached.

The committee also continues its community outreach activities, appearing before local groups and organizations and soliciting feedback on what type of individual is desired and what skill set should be required in the next university president. The committee has met with close to 15 community groups in September and October, and has another 15 to 20 listening dates scheduled in November and beyond. A complete listing by date of upcoming appearances and ways to contact the committee to invite them to appear before other groups can be found at the committee’s website or by clicking the “Presidential Search” button on the University of Hawaiʻi home page.

Hawaii Department of Education Revises Graduation Rates After Learning of Data Errors

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today reported revised high school graduation rate results. The data changes affect the statewide graduation rate percentage, graduation rates for 37 high schools and the status of 11 schools in the Strive HI Performance System.

The Strive HI Performance System is designed to measure and understand school performance and progress and help tailor rewards, supports and interventions for improvement.

Following an internal review of 2012 graduation rate data initially reported in August, the DOE identified a programming omission that incorrectly coded outcomes for 205 students. The DOE immediately corrected the data and notified affected schools.

“Learning of data errors, particularly this late in the year, is frustrating, complicates communication with school faculties and communities, and disrupts improvement efforts,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “There is no excuse for these errors. We have notified affected schools and I have directed a number of internal actions designed to ensure the accuracy and transparency of our data processes.”

Specifically, the DOE is implementing quality assurance processes to ensure the integrity of data collection and use.

“The Strive HI Performance System transforms the way we look at the performance of our schools so we can have a deeper understanding of their progress and what’s needed to improve,” said Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. “Our complex area superintendents, principals and teachers are using the Strive HI data to have meaningful conversations and take action to improve student outcomes.”

Under the Strive HI Performance System, schools earn points based on achievement, growth, readiness and achievement gap measures. In combination with additional factors, schools are classified into one of the following five steps: Recognition, Continuous Improvement, Focus, Priority and Superintendent’s Zone.

For most of the 37 high schools with corrected graduation rates, there are minor changes to their Index score and no changes to their Strive HI classification. The updated Strive HI Performance Systems Results are posted at HawaiiPublicSchools.org. The corrections to the statewide graduation rate are:

Graduation Rates

The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 288 schools and serves more than 185,000 students. To learn more about the Department, its goals and vision for success, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.​

Big Island Police Arrest Man and Woman Following Puna Burglary Last Week

A man and a woman are in police custody following a burglary last week in Puna.

The burglary occurred Friday (October 25) at a home on 21st Avenue in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson

Police investigation led to the identities of two suspects, 40-year-old Michael Anderson of Keaʻau, and 24-year-old Celeste Geraghty of Pāhoa.

Celeste Geraghty

Celeste Geraghty

Both were arrested Monday and taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation. Detectives recovered two stolen rings taken in the burglary as well as four packets of a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia after search warrants were executed at Geraghty’s home in the Ainaloa subdivision and on Anderson’s personal property.

Tuesday evening, Geraghty was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug and two counts of drug paraphernalia. She was also charged with failure to appear in an unrelated case. Her bail was set at $15,050. Anderson was charged with second-degree theft, promoting a detrimental drug, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug and two counts of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $60,000.

The pair remained at the cellblock pending their initial court appearance scheduled for Wednesday (October 30).

Senator Schatz Introduces Bills to Create Jobs and Grow Hawai‘i’s Economy

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz introduced two bills that will create high-quality jobs in Hawai‘i and promote American manufacturing as part of a collaborative “Make it in America” initiative with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and other Senate colleagues.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

  • The SelectUSA Authorization Act would help businesses tap into the investment needed to expand and create jobs, spur economic growth and promote American competitiveness. A companion bill in the House has been introduced by Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA).
  • The Native Small Business Conformity Act, introduced by Senators Schatz and Hirono, would enhance opportunities for Native Hawaiian Organizations to engage in federal contracting as other Native owned small business firms do.

In the coming weeks, Senator Schatz will also be introducing two additional bills to promote trade and incentivize energy efficiency in manufacturing.  The American Export Promotion Act, which accompanies legislation introduced in the House by Representative Pete Gallego (D-TX), would boost exports of Hawai‘i’s unique products and help small businesses access global markets. He will also be working with Senate colleagues to introduce the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act, which would offer targeted incentives to promote energy efficiency improvements in industrial and manufacturing facilities and make American industry more competitive.

“These policies will help create good jobs in Hawai‘i and help Hawai‘i businesses grow,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz.  “New clean energy incentives, opportunities for Native Hawaiian small businesses, increasing Hawaii’s exports, and promoting foreign investment in our businesses are all part of a dynamic economy here in Hawai‘i.”

On SelectUSA Authorization Act of 2013:

“The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii supports the SelectUSA bill to provide funding in support of the organization’s efforts to showcase the Unites States as the world’s premier business location, and increase both foreign and domestic investment in U.S. business. This bill, if enacted, will enable SelectUSA to hold future conferences, including one with an Asia-Pacific focus, which, because of Hawaii’s strategic mid-Pacific location, would greatly benefit our local economy and businesses in the state, and is why the Chamber is proud to represent Hawaii at the inaugural SelectUSA Investment Summit.”
-Sherry Menor-McNamara, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce

American Export Promotion Act of 2013:

“As the sole representative to the National Association of Manufacturers for the State of Hawaii, The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii supports the American Export Promotion Act. We believe that Hawaii businesses could benefit from this legislation, which will help small and medium-sized businesses export their products across the globe. The Act’s promotion of American exports and advocating for small businesses and American jobs is good for Hawaii, and clearly ties in to the Chamber’s manufacturing in Hawaii initiative, which is designed to help the industry grow in the state.”
-Sherry Menor-McNamara, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce

“The American Export Promotion Act appears to be a vital step in supporting this essential effort for our economy. I feel strongly that Hawaii Small Businesses would benefit from the technical assistance that could be provided by the Hawaii SBDC to support development of plans to export, particularly to the Asia and Pacific Region.”
-Cathy Wiltse, Hawaii Small Business Development Center

On Native Small Business Conformity Act of 2013:

“The Native Hawaiian Organizations Association supports the Native Small Business Conformity Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Brian Schatz, which seeks to create opportunities for job growth in America. Though small in number, our companies have successfully created thousands of jobs while simultaneously contributing millions of dollars to support community-based non-profit organizations in areas including education, health, economic development, and culture.  This bill will allow us to advance our efforts by increasing business opportunities, creating jobs in Hawaii, and providing the resources to help us fulfill our mission to improve the socio-economic status of the Native Hawaiian community.”
-Ron Jarrett, President, Native Hawaiian Organizations Association

“NACA applauds the introduction of the Native Small Business Conformity Act, an initiative which will allow Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian community-owned businesses to continue to thrive and grow in today’s federal marketplace. We look forward to the favorable review of the bill, which is based on the federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. The advancement of this responsibility allows our communities to further our self-sufficiency and spur economic development across our nation.”
-Kevin Allis, Executive Director, Native American Contractors Association

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Update – Thermal Image Sequence of Lava Lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

This thermal image sequence shows the typical motion of the lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

Thermal image sequence of summit lava lake motion... Click Picture to view the sequence.

Thermal image sequence of summit lava lake motion… Click Picture to view the sequence.

For scale, the lake is about 160 meters (520 feet) wide in this view. The clip spans about 12 minutes, and is shown at 30x speed. The lava upwells along the north margin of the lava lake (in this view, near the top of the image). The crust slowly migrates towards the south, where it sinks back into the magmatic system along the south and southeast margins of the lake (bottom of image). The surface moves at roughly 0.5 meters per second, or about 1 mile per hour. The lake surface consists of numerous thin plates of crust, separated by hot cracks. As the lake surface migrates, these plates split, merge and change shape.