Hawaii Receives First Waiver for Small Business Health Options Program Under Affordable Care Act

The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Hawaiʻi has been granted a State Innovation Waiver under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The waiver applies only to the Small Business Health Options Program.

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Since 1974, Hawaiʻi’s Prepaid Health Care Act has required employers to offer healthcare insurance to employees working more than 20 hours per week and to pay the majority of the premium. These provisions offer Hawaiʻi residents greater coverage than the ACA.

“This action acknowledges the success of the state’s Prepaid Health Care Act in providing insurance to a majority of Hawaiʻi’s residents and the role it plays in the continued health of our citizens. We appreciate President Obama’s and Secretary Burwell’s leadership on this important issue and the Obama administration’s recognition that Hawaiʻi stands at the forefront in delivering affordable access to healthcare,” said Gov. Ige.

As part of this waiver, the federal government will provide additional federal funds for the Prepaid Health Care Act’s Premium Supplementation Program to replace the small business tax credits that would have been provided under ACA SHOP. This program helps qualified small businesses operating in Hawaiʻi pay for their portion of insurance premiums.

The waiver approval is effective for five years from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021.

The waiver approval letter is posted online: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/State-Innovation-Waivers/Downloads/Hawaii-1332-State-Innovation-Waiver-Approval-Letter-and-STCs-Final-123016.pdf

Individuals and families who do not currently have health insurance through their employer or a government program can sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov through January 31, 2017.

2016 Christmas Baby at Hilo Medical Center

Hilo Medical Center’s first Christmas baby of the year, Hallie-Ray Castro, arrived at 5:48 am weighing 5 pounds and 15 ounces and measuring 19 inches. Her mom, Zashalyn Adrian-Rapoza, says Hallie-Ray came 6 weeks early: “We were wrapping gifts at midnight and I started feeling contractions. By 2:00 am they were nonstop and I was like ‘Seriously…on Christmas!'”

Each of this year’s Christmas babies received a baby bag of supplies and a gift card from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Keaau. The Eagles donated the Christmas bags in memory of Karen Snare, former Eagles President, who passed away this year. Each bag was accompanied by a knitted baby blanket donated from a community member and a bear from Kay Jewelers.

Hawaii Minimum Wage Increasing on January 1, 2017

The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced that per Act 82, Session Laws of Hawaii (2014), the minimum wage for most employers will increase to $9.25 per hour beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. This is third rise in the minimum wage since 2015: from $7.25 to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2016. The next scheduled raise is Jan. 1, 2018 when it will increase to $10.10. Previously, the minimum wage had stayed the same for eight years ($7.25 Jan. 1, 2007—Jan. 1, 2015).

Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 3.0% in November while the record labor force included 696,850.

For more information about minimum wage, please visit: http://labor.hawaii.gov/wsd/minimum-wage/

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program – Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Hawaii Comedian Returns Home for the New Year

Meet comedian Kermet Apio. The Oahu native has been living in Seattle over the course of his 3 decade comedy career and is returning home for three comedy shows.

He has appeared on Comedy Central, National Public Radio, and Sirius/XM Radio. He has showcased at comedy festivals in Aspen, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Grand Rapids, and he was the winner of the Great American Comedy Festival, a national competition which takes place in Norfolk, Nebraska, Johnny Carsons home town.

He is also a past winner of the Seattle Comedy Competition. He has performed in 47 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and as far as Israel and Hong Kong.

As a comedian who performs squeeky clean, family friendly material, Kermet has been performing in front of sell-out crowds in theaters across America, as the opening act for Brian Regan.

Kermet Apio returns to Hawaii to HEADLINE his own three show comedy tour, as Bud Light & KMA Productions Presents the Kermet Apio Stand Up Comedy Show.

The Hilo show featuring Simon Kaufman, Anthony Silano, & Jose Dynamite is Thursday January 5, 2017, at Hilo Town Tavern, 168 Keawe St.  Doors open at 8pm and the show begins at 9pm,

AGE: 21+ General Admission $20 advance or $25 at the door

TICKET OUTLETS: CD Wizard, Hilo Town Tavern or online at www.brownpapertickets.com

Hilo Store Owners Launch Free Education Initiative – Community Outreach Inspired by a Shoplifting Incident

Can compassion prevent crime?

That was a question Breeani Sumera-Lee, manager of Hilo’s Keaukaha Market, found herself struggling with recently after catching a young boy attempting to steal fishing equipment from her family’s general store.

Rather than call the police, Sumera-Lee decided to offer the boy some advice.  But when she suggested the boy apply for a job, he simply answered, “I don’t know how.”  When she suggested he start with resume writing, the boy again explained, “I don’t know how.”

The encounter left Sumera-Lee questioning how different the boy’s life would be if he  possessed skills that would help him make better choices.  Inspired, she set to work organizing a series of free educational classes meant to help uplift the surrounding community.

After three years of preparation including website building and discussions with professionals and community leaders, Sumera-Lee found a class facility and secured teaching commitments from experts in everything from resume writing and interview preparation to financial wellness, self defense, dance, and more.

The inaugural Keaukaha Community Class series will start on January 15 at the Keaukaha Gym, with subsequent classes held on the second weekend of each month throughout the remainder of the year.

Featured presenters for 2017 include former Miss Hawai`i Raeceen Satele, Senator Kai Kahele, 2016 Miss Aloha Hula Ka`iulani Carr, and many others.  Attendance is free and all materials will be provided, along with food and drinks.

To sign up for classes and for more information, visit www.keaukahacommunityclasses. com.  Classes are open to the public.  Self defense class attendees must be at least 18 years of age.

 

Whale Carcass Prompts Closures at ‘Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

5TH Report of Humpback Carcass Since November

Shoreline access at ‘Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve on Maui has been closed due to a whale carcass on shore.  Carcasses often attract sharks, thus the reason for the placement of beach warning signs by Maui County lifeguards and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE).

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

The latest Humpback whale carcass was first reported floating offshore last night. DOCARE, Maui County, and representatives from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service are on the scene now, assessing the situation.  The carcass washed on shore in a remote cove at ‘Ahihi Kinau. Depending on the carcasses movements additional closures or warnings may be imposed at Makena State Park and other areas.  Government officials are in the process of determining the best course of action for disposal of the carcass.  Options include leaving it in place or towing it back out to sea.  Additionally the officials are consulting with Hawaiian cultural experts on appropriate protocols.

This is the fifth dead Humpback report since November 11th, when a carcass was towed out to sea from Kailua Bay, Oahu.  Since then additional carcasses have been reported on West Oahu, West Molokai, and earlier this week off the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai’s west side.

Beachgoers and ocean users are asked to avoid whale carcasses on shore or in the ocean for their own safety.  They’re encouraged to check with lifeguards before venturing into the water. Humpback whales, dead or alive, are protected by both federal and state marine mammal laws.

Second Informational Meeting on Sea Level Rise Adaptation in Hawai’i

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold an informational meeting on sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation on Kaua‘i, Monday, January 09, 2017.  This meeting is one of a series of public informational meetings being held state wide in an effort to educate people about the impacts of sea level rise and to gather comments and input about key issues and concerns regarding preparedness and adaptation.  The first meeting was held on Oahu last June.

Climate change has the potential to profoundly impact our wellbeing and way of life.  In particular, rising sea levels will increase the occurrence and severity of coastal erosion and flooding, threatening natural resources and economic sectors concentrated along low-lying shores.  “We are in the process of developing a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report (SLR Report) that is to be submitted in anticipation of the 2018, Hawaii State Legislature and we are interested in soliciting input from our island communities to help us complete the report,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  “This SLR Report is the first state-wide assessment of the impacts of sea level rise on our coastal areas.  Using the best available scientific knowledge, the SLR Report will help us prepare for future sea level rise and present recommendations to reduce our exposure to SLR hazards such as erosion and extreme flooding”, said Sam Lemmo, Co-Chair of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee”.

The Kaua‘i meeting will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Līhu‘e Civic Center, Moikeha Building, Meeting Room 2A-2B located at 4444 Rice Street in Līhu‘e.  Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance please contact the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) at least four days prior to the public hearing. For additional information contact OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/.