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    October 2017
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Hawaii State Department of Health Leads Oral Health Screening Initiative for Every Head Start and Early Head Start Student

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, Head Start Collaboration Office, and Hawaii Head Start and Early Head Start programs, is conducting a statewide oral health screening project, beginning this fall. The project, which focuses on Hawaii keiki who are most at risk for cavities, builds upon the foundation set by the DOH’s Hawaii Smiles statewide third-grade screening project two years ago. The current project will look at younger children and include an oral health screening for every child enrolled in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.The first screening is scheduled at the Parents and Children Together (PACT) headquarters at The Towers at Kuhio Park on Tuesday, Oct. 17, beginning at 10 am. Altogether, more than 2,970 children at more than 100 Head Start and Early Head Start sites statewide will have a dental screening in this school year. The health department will use this data on the oral health of these young children to inform the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and develop policies and programs to improve the oral health of children across Hawaii.

The Hawaii Smiles statewide screening team is composed of dentists and dental hygienists from the public and private sectors who will evaluate the extent of cavities in these children, provide oral health educational materials for parents and teachers, and offer recommendations for follow-up dental care.

“This project will allow us to better understand the patterns that surround dental decay in families and communities in our state,” said Dr. Gavin Uchida, DOH dental director. “On a community level, we know we must all do much more to improve the oral health of the residents of our state, and this information is foundational in helping us create the smartest, most effective plans for positive change.”

Previously, DOH issued the 2015/2016 Hawaii Smiles report, which validated that Hawaii’s third grade children have the highest prevalence of tooth decay in the nation. The baseline results were based on data collected from more than 3,000 third grade students in 67 public elementary schools during the 2014-2015 school year.

The findings from the Hawaii Smiles report were disappointing, but not surprising:

  • 71 percent of third graders in Hawaii have tooth decay, which is higher than the national average of 52 percent;
  • 22 percent of third graders have untreated tooth decay, indicating they are not receiving dental care;
  • About 7 percent of third graders are in need of urgent dental care because of pain or infection; and
  • There are significant oral health disparities by income as well as by race/ethnicity among third grade students in Hawaii.

“We are grateful that the HDS Foundation is being proactive and funding early solutions to Hawaii’s oral health problems,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network. “These problems are often preventable when addressed in early childhood through screening, public education and outreach, and public policy. We are excited for the opportunity to make a difference in the health of Hawaii children.”

As part of the outreach efforts, parents and teachers will receive oral health educational materials and classroom supplies to reinforce the importance of good oral health to children.

The Hawaii Smiles report recommended community-based prevention programs that focus on oral health promotion and prevention services in early childhood programs to reach children at a younger age. The Early Head Start and Head Start programs were identified because of their extensive reach to children from birth to five years old.

“While this project is organized by the Department of Health, it actually is a growing coalition of local and national community partners who are taking action,” said Dr. Uchida. “We’re seeing the result of partnerships that start with caring individuals and small community groups, and extends to local businesses and associations, and even to national leadership at the CDC. A lot of people are now coming together to address the oral health problems we’re seeing in Hawaii, and this current project is just the beginning of good things to come.“

“We’re pleased to be able to continue our support for the Hawaii Smiles project,” said

Mark Yamakawa, president and CEO of Hawaii Dental Service (HDS). “Prevention is the key to good oral health especially for our young children, and we appreciate the collaborative effort to tackle this important issue in our state.”

The CDC awarded the DOH a $1.1 million grant to rebuild its oral health program, a portion of which is being used for these oral health screenings for 1,450 children at 50 Head Start and Early Head Start sites throughout the state.

The HDS Foundation gave a $45,000 grant to the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, which is helping to coordinate the logistics of this project, to expand the outreach efforts to an additional 59 sites and to conduct dental screenings for an additional 1,520 infants, toddlers and preschoolers for a total of more than 2,970 children.

Children will be referred to their dentist for follow-up care.  If they do not have a dentist, the DOH and the Head Start and Early Head Start programs will refer families to Community Case Management Corp., which assists Medicaid beneficiaries with finding dentists for treatment.

October Brown Bag Lunch Series – “Conflict Resolution Day: Mediation as a Tool for Peace”

With a focus on “Finding Solutions, Growing Peace,” this monthly lunch-and-learn series features interesting speakers discussing topics related to communication, dispute prevention and resolution, and transforming conflict.

This month’s speaker is Julie Mitchell on “Conflict Resolution Day: Mediation as a Tool for Peace.”

“Conflict Resolution Day is an annual international celebration held every third Thursday in October,” says Julie. “It promotes awareness of peaceful means of resolving disagreements and encourages the use of conflict resolution in schools, families, businesses, communities, government, and the legal system.”

During this talk, professionally trained volunteer mediators will conduct a ‘Live Action Mediation’ to demonstrate how mediators empower people to find their own best solutions.

Ku‘ikahi’s Brown Bag Lunch Series is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch, enjoy an informal and educational talk-story session, and meet others interested in “Finding Solutions, Growing Peace.”

For more information, contact Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center Program Coordinator Al-Qawi Majidah at (808) 935-7844 x 3 or majidah@hawaiimediation.org. No RSVP needed – walks ins welcome!

Hospice of Hilo to Offer Presentation for Professionals

Hospice of Hilo will be offering a free presentation for community professionals serving those whose lives are affected by loss  “Grief Touches Everyone.” Participants will meet at Hospice of Hilo’s Community Room located at 1011 Waiānuenue Ave in Hilo, on Wednesday, October 25, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Facilitated by Hospice of Hilo bereavement counselors, participants will learn about common responses to loss, and how grief can affect adults and children emotionally, cognitively, physically, socially and spiritually. An overview of the organization’s free community Bereavement Services will also be provided.

The workshop is highly recommended for teachers, counselors, case managers, social workers, and caregivers.“ This well organized and informative workshop is a good introduction to grief and the resources that can help,” said a past participant.

To register or for further information contact: Anjali Kala at 961-7306 or email anjalik@hospiceofhilo.org. Please RSVP no later than October 24th.

Hawai‘i Telehealth Summit Moves State Toward Increasing Access to Healthcare Using Innovative Technology

More than 150 healthcare and information technology professionals from throughout the state will gather for the Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit this week to explore ways to improve access to care for Hawaiʻi residents through telehealth technology.

The two-day Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit, co-sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, will be held at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Dole Cannery Ballrooms on Oct. 12 and 13.

“Today, we have technology capable of improving access to healthcare services for Hawai‘i residents who are homebound or living in rural areas, including the neighbor islands where there is a shortage of specialists,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. “The Department of Health has adopted telehealth for adolescent psychiatric counseling and has piloted teledentistry for West Hawai‘i residents, but as a state, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

The event will feature exhibits and hands-on demonstrations of the latest telehealth technologies, equipment, and services.

On the first day, summit attendees will hear a keynote address, “Telepresence Skills: How to build and maintain authentic and effective provider-patient relationships when practicing telemedicine,” by Dr. David Roth of Mind and Body Works.  The second day of the summit will feature keynote addresses from Gov. David Ige and Congressman Brian Schatz. The event will culminate in facilitated discussions to establish a statewide telehealth strategic plan.

Hawai‘i has adopted new payment models to keep pace with advances in telehealth technology. In July 2016, Gov. Ige signed a law that allows healthcare providers to receive the same reimbursements for patient care, whether it is through a telehealth consultation or a face-to-face office visit. These types of changes are expected to further accelerate telehealth’s popularity in Hawai‘i.

“It is exciting that the telehealth law paves the way for tremendous opportunity for providers and communities in Hawaiʻi, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Denise Konan, the dean of the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences. “The university is fully supportive of the summit and committed to bringing people together to keep the momentum going.”

Currently, about 15 percent of Hawaiʻi physicians use electronic communications to deliver health care, according to the Hawaiʻi Physician Workforce Assessment Project’s 2017 report to the state legislature.

“Telehealth is changing the way providers interact with patients,” Dr. Pressler said. “Telehealth is particularly convenient for our island state, where many segments of our population face challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to geographical constraints. Telehealth can be a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care and provides greater access to healthcare.”

For example, the state’s physician shortage often forces neighbor islands residents to fly to Oʻahu for treatment. These patients — or government programs such as Medicaid — must absorb the added cost of travel and patients must endure long wait times. With telehealth, medical specialists on Oʻahu can treat patients at smaller, neighbor island hospitals that lack such specialists.

Pressler added, “We look forward to working with our partners in the community to develop a strategic plan for telehealth and ultimately improve the way we deliver healthcare for Hawaiʻi’s people.”

For additional information on the summit, call the DOH Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development at (808) 586-4188.

Hawai‘i Ranks Third in Nation in U.S. News’ Best States for Aging Ranking

The State of Hawai‘i ranks third in the country when it comes to states that are best at serving their older population. U.S. News and World Report based its rankings on the cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care and life expectancy.The publication says that Hawai‘i’s residents have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., with its 65-and-older population expected to live 20 years longer than in other states. U.S. News has also found that Hawai‘i has the best nursing home quality in the country.

“It’s part of our culture in Hawai‘i to respect and honor our kupuna or elders. Our programs reflect these values and aim to keep our older population active and contributing members of society,” said Gov. David Ige.

Colorado ranked first, with one of the healthiest and most physically active older populations in the country. Maine is second, where a fifth of the population consists of residents 65 and older, a higher percentage than in any other state.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

In 2016, Americans 65 and older accounted for 15.2 percent of the total population, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2000. Not only are baby boomers aging, but advances in medicine and technology are resulting in a longer life expectancy.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that one in five Americans will be 65 years and older by 2030.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Support the POWER Act During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor urging Congress to support survivors of domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and cosponsor the POWER Act (H.R. 1762).

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Domestic violence often hides behind closed doors and drawn curtains, but the problem is very staggering. In my home state of Hawai‘i, 575 domestic violence survivors reach out to local organizations seeking help every single day. Their stories are heartbreaking and too often, even if they are temporarily removed from their abusive environment, they often return to that abuser.

“Survivors can seek legal protection from their abusers, but they aren’t likely to do so – or to be successful – unless they have a lawyer. Just 32% of victims successfully obtain a restraining order without legal representation. I call on my colleagues to support the POWER Act, which requires every state’s U.S. attorney to promote and expand pro-bono legal services, specifically for domestic violence survivors.

“We all need to be more conscious of this problem because it’s happening in our communities. As we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us have the courage to confront the pervasiveness of this crime and take action to help provide survivors with the safety and security that they need.”

Background:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, including supporting Maui’s Women Helping Women, passing Talia’s Law, praising the Hawai‘i Text-to-911 program, and more.

The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1762, the POWER Act, which would help connect domestic violence survivors with legal representation. For more information on the economic benefits of providing legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence, view the Institute for Policy Integrity Report, Supporting Survivors, here.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Hawai`i Department of Health Approves Fourth Dispensary to Begin Retail Sales of Medical Cannabis

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Noa Botanicals is the fourth licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on O‘ahu) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The licensed retail center for Noa Botanicals is located at 1308 Young Street in Honolulu, and the dispensary expects to begin sales at the site this month.

“We are continuing to closely work with both the licensed dispensaries and private laboratories in each of the counties to help them meet all of the requirements as efficiently as possible without compromising product or patient safety,” said Keith Ridley, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program for the Hawaii State Department of Health.

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by the Hawaii Department of Health.

The other licensed retail centers are:

  • Maui Grown Therapies, located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui, which was the first licensed dispensary in Hawai‘i to receive a notice to proceed on Aug. 8, 2017;
  • Aloha Green, in the Interstate Building at 1314 South King Street in Honolulu, received its notice to proceed on Aug. 9, 2017; and
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC, at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului, Maui, was the second Maui dispensary to receive a notice to proceed on Sept. 29, 2017.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure O‘ahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. The two Maui dispensaries include Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies; and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. The one dispensary located on Kaua‘i is Green Aloha, Ltd. Each licensed dispensary is an independent business and operates based on their individual business plans.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program is available at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalcannabis/.

North Hawai’i Community Hospital Lobby to Close Temporarily

The lobby at North Hawai’i Community Hospital will close for several weeks starting Thursday, October 12.

The closure is required while flooring in the lobby is replaced. This is the last phase of a large-scale flooring replacement project ongoing at the hospital since November 2016.

Patients and visitors are directed to enter the hospital through the emergency room entrance. Signage will be placed throughout the campus to help redirect visitors.

For patient convenience, all parking near the emergency room will be designated for patients and visitors only.

Visitors to the Lucy Henriques building will continue to enter through that building.

The project is expected to be completed by November 3.

Commentary – Were Pahoa High and Intermediate Lunch Times Shortened Because of a Fight?

Yesterday, KHON2 News ran a news story about Pahoa’s lunches being shortened.

…Changes to the lunch program at a Hawaii island school prompted parents to reach out to us, saying their kids are being rushed to eat.

Their kids go to Pahoa High and Intermediate School, which recently started a pilot lunch program.
High school students eat during the normal 30-minute lunch break, but intermediate school students eat during recess, which is just 15 minutes long…

I received the following message on Wednesday indicating that this change in policy may have stemmed from a fight on campus… but didn’t discuss it further with the person sending me the information until tonight:

Aloha Damon, I wanted to bring something to your attention that maybe you could do some investigative reporting. Apparently Pahoa High and Intermediate administration has decided to have Intermediate student only eat lunch during first recess which is 15 minutes while the high school eats during regular lunch which is 30 minutes. When I complained to the principal she stated it was due to decreasing tardys to class during lunch time. An insider told me they did it because of a fight that occurred between a Intermediate kid and a high schooler.

When discussing this with friends on Facebook, one person posted a picture from the Pahoa Cafeteria:

My kids say they don’t even bother eating when this is what they are serving at Pahoa. ~VW

“This was what they call Baja fish taco SMH. This was on Wednesday when we went to school for student of the month luncheon I was In Shock when he came to the table with this…Home lunches from now on!!!” said Valerie Walsh.

Got Baja Fish Taco? I don’t know if I could swallow this in 15 minutes… less yet an hour!!!

Hawai`i Joins Coalition of 18 States Opposing President’s Contraception Coverage Rollback

Attorney General Doug Chin today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general warning the Trump administration that it should expect legal action over its discriminatory, ill-considered, and dangerous move to effectively end the contraception coverage rule created by the Affordable Care Act. The 18 attorneys general have written Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Don Wright, Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta, and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin expressing their strong opposition to the Trump administration’s action that will increase healthcare costs for women, lead to more unplanned pregnancies, and place even more strain on state budgets.

Attorney General Doug Chin

Attorney General Chin said, “We are talking about basic access to health care for women. Contraception provides women the autonomy they deserve. It’s also used to treat a variety of serious conditions having nothing to do with birth control. And the public has had no opportunity to comment.”

For millions of women the contraception coverage rule has reduced their healthcare costs, helped address medical conditions, and allowed them to make their own decisions about when and if to have children. Before the contraception coverage rule, birth control accounted for 30-44% of a woman’s out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Now, 62 million women across the country have access to contraception without a co-pay, saving an average of $255 per year for oral pill contraceptives, and the percentage of women who have a co-pay for contraception has fallen from more than 20% to less than 4%.

“Allowing any employer or insurance company with a religious or ‘moral’ objection to contraception to opt out of this requirement will take away women’s autonomy to make their own reproductive decisions and put those decisions in the hands of their employers,” write the attorneys general. “Subjecting women to the religious and moral beliefs of their employers violates the right to privacy that is so evident in Supreme Court doctrine. Women should have coverage for their critical health care just as men do.”

The attorneys general also informed the relevant cabinet secretaries that “we will closely monitor any legal challenges to this rule that discriminates against women in our states and negatively impacts our state budgets. We stand ready to take action to protect the best interests of our states and constituents.”

In addition to Hawaii, Oregon, and Virginia, joining today’s letter opposing the Trump administration’s rollback of contraceptive coverage are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the letter is attached.

Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. Donates $2.34 Million To Hawaii Island Adult Care Project

Hawaii Island Adult Care Project Slated For February 2018 Completion

The Hilo Adult Day Center, a joint venture between Hawaii Island Adult Care, Inc. (HIAC) and Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC), was awarded $2,340,000 by The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.

“Words cannot express our gratitude to the trustees of The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation for their generous gift,” said Hawaii Island Adult Care Executive Director Paula Uusitalo. “The Weinberg Foundation’s largess will enable completion of the construction project and positively affect senior lives in Hilo for the next 50 plus years.”

The Weinberg Foundation has so far funded $1,775,000 and the final $565,000 payment will be made at the completion of the project.

Hilo Adult Day Center’s new building, located on Mohouli Street and above Komohana Street, will feature large open spaces for art/craft activities and physical fitness geared to elders along with quiet indoor spaces for reading, socializing and relaxing. Project features include a fully certified kitchen to provide hot meals, outdoor gardens and a meandering path. The project is currently under construction by Isemoto Construction Corporation and is roughly 50% complete. Construction is expected to be completed in February 2018.

“We wouldn’t be here without the organization and support of the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation and its executive director Keith Kato,” added Uusitalo.  “Keith and HICDC’s Development Manager Jeremy McComber contributing their expertise in securing the site, developing the infrastructure, working with HIAC on the building design, and bidding, awarding and overseeing the construction have been invaluable. Our organization worked towards a new Hilo building starting in the year 2000,but the true Capital Campaign project did not launch until Keith Kato and the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation became involved.”

The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center will complement Hawaii Island Community Development Corp’s existing and planned senior housing in the Mohouli Senior complex with its 182 units at full build out. The first phase of 60 senior housing units was completed in 2014, the second phase with 30 units is nearing completion this month and funding for the last increment of 92 units has been secured from the State Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

The total budget for the Adult Day Center project is $8,586,000. While the building will be completed early next year, the parent organization, Hawaii Island Adult Care will still require an additional $580,000 to pay for furniture, fixtures and equipment including a commercial kitchen that will provide meals for the seniors.

To date, in addition to The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, project donors include community and board members, County of Hawaii, State of Hawaii, Cooke Foundation, HEI Charitable Foundation, LGA Family Foundation, Matson Foundation, KTA Super Stores, Bank of Hawaii and the Atherton Family Foundation.

For information on how to donate to the capital campaign contact the Hawaii Island Adult Care Executive Director Paula Uusitalo at (808) 961-3747, ext. 105 or Keith Kato, Executive Director of the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation at (808) 319-2422 or visit www.hawaiiislandadultcare.org.

Hawaii Joins in Settling With Mylan Inc – Will Receive Over $700,000

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that Hawaii has joined the United States, the District of Columbia, and all 49 other states in settling allegations against Mylan Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. (collectively “Mylan”). The settlement resolves allegations that Mylan knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the Medicaid program for the drugs EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. (“EpiPen”) dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. Mylan owns the exclusive rights to sell EpiPen in the United States and possesses legal title to the New Drug Codes (“NDCs”) for EpiPen.

Pursuant to a settlement Mylan entered with the United States in August, Mylan was to pay up to $465 million to the United States and the states, depending on the number of states that joined the settlement. As of Friday, September 29th, all fifty states and the District of Columbia had joined the settlement; as a result, the states will share $213,936,000 of the total settlement of $465 million. Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $742,679.02, which will be split between the Med-Quest program at the Department of Human Services as restitution and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at the Department of the Attorney General for its continued enforcement efforts.

The Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute was enacted by Congress in 1990 to keep costs down for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs. The law requires participating drug makers and NDC holders such as Mylan to sign a rebate agreement with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That agreement is a precondition to drug makers getting Medicaid coverage for their drugs, and to pay quarterly rebates to state Medicaid programs for drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. NDC holders must provide information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) concerning their covered drugs. In particular, they must advise CMS regarding the classification of a covered drug as an “innovator” or “noninnovator” drug. This is because the amount of rebates owed varies depending on the drug’s classification. The amount of the rebate also depends on pricing information provided by the manufacturer. For drugs classified as “innovator” drugs, NDC holders must report their “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter.

Specifically, this settlement resolves allegations that from July 29, 2010 to March 31, 2017, Mylan submitted false statements to CMS that incorrectly classified EpiPen as a “noninnovator multiple source” drug, as opposed to a “single source” or “innovator multiple source” drug. Mylan also did not report a Best Price to CMS for EpiPen, which it was required to do for all “single source” and “innovator multiple source” drugs. This meant Mylan submitted false statements to CMS and the States relating to EpiPen for Medicaid rebate purposes, and underpaid its EpiPen rebates to the State Medicaid Programs.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – 29th Hilo Family and Peace Walk and Vigil

Marking the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Department of the Attorney General and Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (HSCADV) encourage community members to come together to keep our communities safe. While law enforcement and victim advocacy services are available, we need the community to help end domestic violence.

Attorney General Doug Chin

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Domestic violence is a persistent and unacceptable condition in our communities. Please use this month to educate yourself to help stop others from being hurt.”

HSCADV Executive Director Stacey Moniz said, “This October marks the 30th year we have been honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We encourage our communities across the state to engage with your local domestic violence programs. Please get involved, donate or volunteer, follow them on social media and help raise awareness of the valuable resources available on every island. Let’s all stand together and say, Hawaii Says No More to domestic violence.”

For information on what is domestic violence, go to the U.S. Department of Justice webpage https://www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence. There are many ways to get involved. It could be as simple as wearing the color purple to bring domestic violence awareness on October 19th, National Purple Thursday. You can also participate in a number of free events around the state, including:

  • A Domestic Violence Awareness Fair being held at the Maui Queen Kaahumanu Center on October 14th;
  • The 29th Hilo Family and Peace Walk and Vigil on October 27th; and
  • ‘Slippa’ Donation to benefit Child and Family Service emergency shelters and domestic violence programs on October 14th at the Pearl City Walmart.

For a complete listing of events, go to HSCADV’s website at https://www.hscadv.org/

In 2015, there were 10,830 Protective Orders filed in Family Court in addition to 1,280 arrests for Violation of a Temporary Restraining Order and 2,774 arrests for Violation of a Protection Order. For a listing of domestic violence victim advocacy services go to https://www.hscadv.org/resources, and other important contacts https://www.hscadv.org/other-important-contacts

 

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $361K in Funding for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Efforts

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Children with Special Health Needs Branch has been awarded $361,956 in cooperative agreement funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Hawaii Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HI-CLPPP).

The federal funding will support the state’s efforts to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for Hawaii children under the age of six. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health; increase the risks for damage to the brain and nervous system; slow growth and development; and result in learning, behavioral, hearing and speech problems. Young children are at the highest risk for lead exposure because they engage in more hand-to-mouth activity, and a child’s developing nervous system is more susceptible to the effects of lead.

“Early screening and testing to identify and prevent lead exposure in young children helps ensure the healthy development of our keiki,” said Dr. Patricia Heu, chief of the DOH Children with Special Health Needs Branch. “This new funding will improve our processes to identify lead-exposed children and link their families with services to find and remove the source of lead. This will help to protect that child and other children in the family from further exposure.”

According to DOH data from 2011 to 2015, nearly 60,000 children under the age of six in Hawaii were tested for lead. Of those tested, 1,700 children (about 3 percent) had elevated blood lead levels.

“Recent research shows that there is no safe blood lead level in children.” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, Health Resources Administration deputy director. “Keeping our keiki safe from lead hazards and lead poisoning requires collaborative efforts between our state programs, healthcare professionals, and our community. The department is committed to working with these groups to promote the healthy development of young children and to support their future success in school and life.”

The cooperative agreement funding will enable DOH to address the complex problem of childhood lead poisoning using a collaborative approach with state and community partners. The department’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office, Indoor and Radiological Health Branch/Lead-Based Paint Program, and Public Health Nursing Branch are working together with the Children with Special Health Needs Branch to implement the HI-CLPPP program.

HI-CLPPP’s purpose is to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for children under the age of six through strengthening blood lead level testing, surveillance, prevention, and processes to identify lead-exposed children and link them to services. Strategies and activities under the new grant will include:

  • Updating guidelines for blood lead testing.
  • Implementing a new lead database as a public health management tool.
  • Education and outreach to communities and providers.
  • Coordinating with other agencies, partners and stakeholders serving children to ensure that a comprehensive system of identification, referral, services and follow-up is in place for lead-exposed children.

Sources of lead exposure for children may include lead in paint or paint dust in houses built before 1978 when lead-based paint in housing was banned. Children may also be exposed to lead by family members who work with or have hobbies that involve contact with lead such as auto repair, welding, construction and home renovation. Other sources of lead may include fishing sinkers, jewelry, toys, glazed pottery and folk medicine made in foreign countries.

Being aware of the sources of lead and taking precautions can help protect young children from the serious effects of lead poisoning. Families can ask their doctor to test their child for lead, even if the child seems healthy. Families living in homes built before 1978 should keep children’s play areas free of paint chips and dust and take extra precaution when doing home renovation to prevent the spread of lead dust. Family members who work with lead are advised to keep work clothes and shoes away from children.

More information can be found at the department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention website at http://health.hawaii.gov/cshcn/leadpp/.

Governor Ige Marks Family Assessment Center’s First Anniversary, Outlines Progress on Homelessness

Gov. David Ige today highlighted the state’s overall progress in addressing homelessness while recognizing the first anniversary of the state’s Family Assessment Center (FAC).

The FAC temporarily houses homeless families while they are being connected to services and long-term housing with the assistance of specialists from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. More than 90 percent of families who have stayed at the FAC and have left the facility over the past year, have been housed, or 35 families out of 38 families serviced. In addition, the average time from intake to placement is 82 days ­– eight days fewer than the 90-day goal the state previously set.

Gov. Ige also said the FAC reflects the state’s overall gains on homelessness, pointing to a nine percent overall decrease in homelessness between 2016-17 – the first decrease in eight years – and a 19 percent reduction in family homelessness.

“The Family Assessment Center is a game-changer that is making a difference in the lives of unsheltered families and helping to provide the stability they need to improve their lives,” Gov. Ige said.

The success of the FAC illustrates the ʻOhana Nui approach, which includes a focus on the whole family; a priority on children, particularly those between infancy and age 5; and collaboration to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“The Department of Human Services is proud to work hand-in-hand with the Governor’s Coordinator and Catholic Charities on long-term solutions to end homelessness,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “The Family Assessment Center is a testament to the power of generative partnerships and a focus on connecting families to an array of services suited to their needs. We see that when we can work together to meet families where they are, families can thrive and not just survive.”

The FAC, which is operated by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, is modeled after housing navigation centers in San Francisco.  Its small population – no more than 50 people, or 12-15 households at a time – enables more individualized care. Guests are not required to have identification, which is a key obstacle for many people experiencing homelessness.  Families are quickly transitioned to permanent housing or other appropriate services in 90 days or less. The facility opened on September 26, 2016.

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $3.5 Million to Support Families Through Home Visiting Program

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $3,510,137 in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. The funds will provide voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.

“Home visiting services help to ensure our keiki and their families have a healthier start,” said Matthew Shim, DOH Family Health Services Division Chief. “This federal funding will allow the state to continue to provide this important service to expecting mothers and families during a critical time in their child’s development.”

The MIECHV Program serves about 850 Hawaii families each year with more than 10,000 home visits conducted statewide annually. Families are screened for eligibility in birthing hospitals, or families may contact MIECHV contracted providers online at www.yourohana.org to determine their eligibility. Services assist mothers through pregnancy and post-delivery, providing support to mothers learning to breastfeed and care for their baby’s health and early development through no-cost home visiting educational supports. Parents receive counseling to acquire knowledge and understanding of child development milestones and positive parenting techniques. Assistance is also offered to help families to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions.

During federal fiscal year 2016, 93.9 percent of pregnant women enrolled in the program accessed prenatal care before the end of their second trimester. Prenatal care is essential for ensuring the safe birth of a healthy baby. Pregnant women enrolled in the program also reported breastfeeding their infants for an average of 24.6 weeks or for the first 6 months of life as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the families enrolled in the program received counseling on the results of the child’s developmental screenings, and parents spent more time in adult education programs to move toward economic self-sufficiency by furthering their education.

“The MIECHV Program helps parents and caregivers connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need to support their families’ well-being and provide the best opportunities for their children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. “In these voluntary programs, trained nurses, social workers, early childhood educators, or other trained professionals meet regularly with expectant parents or families with young children in their homes, building strong, positive relationships with families who want and need support.”

Administered by HRSA, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through FY 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing HHS’ clinical priorities such as the opioid crisis, serious mental illness, and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information on HRSA’s Home Visiting Program, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting.

For a list of all state and county awardees, visit https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/home-visiting/fy17-home-visiting-awards.

Two Men Charged With 35 Counts of Medical Assistance Fraud

Robert Wolf and Ching-Ying Jao have been charged with 35 counts of medical assistance fraud by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Department of the Attorney General. The charges are based on incidents occurring in 2014 and 2015.

Click to view all charges

According to the allegations in the complaint, at the time of the offenses Wolf and Jao billed patients for psychotherapy services that were not performed.

Both Wolf, 71, and Jao, 37, are residents of Honolulu. Neither have prior convictions. Medical assistance fraud is a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Wolf and Jao are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

A copy of the complaint is attached. The two men were arraigned today.

County, State, Faith-Based Groups and Community Join Hands to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is joining hands with the State of Hawai’i, the faith-based community, non-profits, businesses and other concerned citizens to address the island’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Harry Kim said.  The County is working collaboratively on a comprehensive program with the ultimate goal of transitioning homeless people of our island from temporary shelters to affordable housing and jobs.

“These are our people,” Mayor Kim said in a statement. “We cannot in good conscience let homelessness for families and individuals spiral upward; we must do something definitive to address it. I truly feel a growing support from the community.”

His remarks followed the 2nd Annual West Hawai’i Faith-Based Summit to End Family Homelessness in Kona on September 27.  The event was a day-long gathering involving more than 20 West Hawai’i church congregations, numerous social service agencies, healthcare professionals, businesses, as well as State and County officials.

“The faith-based community is really pitching in, offering to adopt homeless families and providing all kinds of material and spiritual support; we cannot thank these good people enough,” he said. “Their spirit is spreading far and wide in the community.”

Mayor Kim expressed deep gratitude for the commitment of assistance from the State of Hawai’i’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, who attended the summit and stressed the need to maximize space and accelerate placement into shelters or transitional housing.

Governor David Ige conveyed a special message of support for the event, stressing the need for collaboration to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness.

“We appreciate so much the support that the State is giving us; they know this is crucial and that we need everybody’s help,” Mayor Kim said.

According to Lance Niimi, the County’s Homeless Coordinator there are approximately 913 homeless people islandwide, with about 379 individuals in families living without a home.  Niimi helped spearhead Camp Kikaha, a temporary Safe Zone encampment in Kona which houses about 30 people since its opening in May.

Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Receives National Award for Excellence in Public Health

Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Deputy Director Keith Y. Yamamoto has been selected by the national Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) as a 2017 recipient of the prestigious Noble J. Swearingen Award. Yamamoto was honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC on Sept. 20.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler and Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto confirmed by Senate on April 9, 2015

Each year, ASTHO recognizes individuals nationwide who demonstrate excellence in public health leadership and work tirelessly to protect and promote the public’s health. Yamamoto was selected for his service as a member of ASTHO’s Senior Deputies Committee in which he provided critical guidance and expertise on multiple state and territorial public health issues.

“Keith brings transformative leadership to the field of public health and embodies a genuine desire to improve the health of Hawaii’s residents,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “His accomplishments have made a difference in the lives of others and we are inspired by his commitment to lead with compassion, integrity and perseverance.”

Yamamoto said, “It was an honor and at the same time very humbling to be recognized, especially knowing that I work alongside colleagues who are equally committed to improving the health and well-being of the people of Hawaii,” he said.

A resident of Nuuanu, Yamamoto was appointed DOH deputy director in 2011. He oversees the department’s general administration which includes budget, fiscal, facilities management, human resources, information technology and compliance. He also oversees the District Health Offices of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai; the Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development; and the Office of Health Status Monitoring.

Prior to his appointment, Yamamoto served for six years as chief of the department’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, where he was responsible for overseeing and managing a range of adult and adolescent substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services statewide.

Yamamoto also previously served as program administrator for the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ Office of Youth Services and managed various school-based vocational education and career development programs for at-risk youth for the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Yamamoto earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of

Hawaii at Manoa and a bachelor’s in rehabilitation services from the University of Northern Colorado.

The Noble J. Swearingen Award was first bestowed in 1979 in recognition of public health administrators who have demonstrated excellence. ASTHO is a national nonprofit organization which helps state and U.S. territorial health agencies develop and implement essential programs and policies in public health priority areas.