Governor Josh Green, M.D., signed 13 bills at a ceremony at Kealakehe Clinic in the Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center, to support various aspects of health care that seek to improve access and services for the community.
“Today’s bill signing will further our Administration’s priorities of ensuring quality health care access for the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Gov. Green in a news release. “Access to health care shouldn’t be a ‘want to have,’ but a ‘need to have,’ and we will continue to work toward finding those solutions that increase access, especially in our rural communities.”
- SB404 Updates the Hospital Sustainability Program to clarify the use of the Hospital Sustainability Program Special Fund to support a hospital’s ability to continue to provide services to Medicaid recipients. The bill makes these programs permanent with passage, rather than allowing the program to sunset at the end of December 2023.
- SB671 Excludes fentanyl testing strips from the definition of drug paraphernalia in the uniform Controlled Substance Act and defines a fentanyl test strip.
“As a state, we need to be compassionate and focus on harm reduction,” said Governor Green of SB671. “It is important to legalize fentanyl test strips, because fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s being laced into other drugs and people are dying. If we can save lives, we should.”
SB674 Allows Hawaiʻi to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (already in effect in 37 other states, the District of Columbia, and Guam) to allow physicians to more easily practice in Hawaiʻi, while still meeting nationally established standards for education and training.
“Our state continues to experience a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially in our rural communities. This bill will help ensure adequate care and health care access for all, not just some,” said Gov. Green.
“Coming from a rural district on Hawaiʻi Island ̶ one of three Oʻahu sized districts ̶ health care access is critical to the wellbeing of our residents,” said Representative Mark M. Nakashima (D-1, Hāmākua, portion of Hilo, Ka‘ūmana). “When the only option is to travel to Oʻahu to see a doctor, it can be overwhelming and financially burdensome. I’m pleased with the expansion of telemedicine and the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and health care professionals, which aims to safely increase available healthcare services to neighbor island residents,” he said.
HB907 HD2 SD2 temporarily allows for the reimbursement of services provided through telehealth via an interactive telecommunications system and two-way, real-time, audio-only communications in certain circumstances. Defines “interactive telecommunications system.” The bill sunsets Dec. 31, 2025.
Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe expressed gratitude to the Governor on behalf of the health centers across Hawaiʻi for signing HB 907 into law.
“HB 907 represents a huge step forward in our effort to extend access to behavior health services to our rural and vulnerable communities, especially here on the Big Island,” he said. “The new law will allow our behavioral practitioners to use audio-only technology to reach patients struggling with isolation, anxiety, depression, addiction and who would not otherwise seek care. Governor Green, by signing this bill into law, gives us another method for reaching patients in their homes, where they live.”
Additional bills signed by Governor Green on June 22, 2023 included (click on links for details):
- SB162 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Dentistry
- SB473 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to the Practice of Pharmacy
- SB599 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers
- SB602 SD2 HD1 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers
- SB759 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Community Efforts
- HB660 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to the Issuance of Special Purpose Revenue Bonds
- HB884 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Traveling Team Physicians
- HB1082 HD3 SD2 CD1, Relating to Medical Cannabis
- HB1369 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Nursing Facilities