Friday, June 17, 2016

House, Senate members attend signing ceremony for three important bills to become law

Several House and Senate lawmakers attended a ceremony June 16 with Gov.  David Ige as he signed three important bills into law.

The bills included HB 2252 (ACT 69) that will require hospitals to adopt and maintain written discharge policies that are consistent with recent updates to federal regulations. The new law requires hospitals to explain and demonstrate medical and nursing tasks required of family caregivers once the patient returns home from the hospital.

The CARE Act recognizes the critical role of Hawaii’s unpaid family caregivers who keep family members and friends out of costly institutions, providing them with the tools to safely and efficiently care for loved ones at home.

The CARE Act features three provisions:
1.     The caregiver’s name is recorded when a loved one is admitted to the hospital.
2.     The caregiver is notified if the hospital is transferring the patient to another facility or releasing them.
3.     The hospital offers to instruct the caregiver on how to perform tasks at home once the loved one is discharged from the hospital. Tasks include medication management, injections and wound care.

“Many of our residents have no other option but to care for their loved ones at home. The CARE Act is crucial in giving families support, guidance and peace of mind as they care for family members and loved ones in the home,” said Gov. Ige.

With Gov. Ige’s signature, Hawaii becomes the 27th state in the nation (plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) to support the CARE Act, to establish minimum hospital discharge standards across the board, to ease the transition from hospital to home.

The CARE Act receives no financial appropriation.


SB 2392 (ACT 68) Relating to Opioid Antagonists: The law takes steps to reduce opioid-related drug overdoses by encouraging the use of opioid antagonists to assist individuals who experience or are at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose. The bill creates immunity for health care professionals and pharmacists who prescribe, dispense, distribute or administer overdose reversal medications such as Naloxone. The bill also authorizes police, firefighters, lifeguards, all emergency medical technicians, family and friends to administer this medication to anyone experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

SB 2453 (ACT 67) Relating to Aquatic Resources: Authorizes the court to require violators of certain laws pertaining to aquatic resources to complete an educational class and/or pay a monetary fine or perform community services in lieu of paying a monetary fine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

House Speaker Joseph Souki's Memorial Day 2016 Speech


More than 70 years ago, you, a generation of young Americans left your mark on history.  Your story is one of heroism and bravery, of citizenship and global responsibility. 

You were all young then, simply trying to make your way through life in a world full of confusion and upheaval.  Your response to those challenges have become legendary.

In the face of prejudice, you not only stared down your own fears, but the fears of a nation in the grip of war. 

In the face of ignorance, you gave us a renewed understanding of the immigrant experience upon which this country was built.

In the face of bigotry, you provided a lesson for people from all backgrounds and for all times.

You are part of our country’s Greatest Generation who helped shape the world—for decades to come.
All that you have achieved remains as bright and clear as ever.

It shines whenever repressed individuals around the world look to us for encouragement and support.

It shines whenever Americans gather to exercise their freedoms.

It shines whenever we look into our own hearts to search for the best in ourselves.

Today we stand here honoring your sacrifice and the men and women who gave their lives in service to our great nation.

You fought for the right of all individuals to purse life, liberty and happiness. 

Your legacy is not just something carved in stone on a monument.

Your legacy is a living, breathing nation that continues to defy ignorance and bigotry.

Your legacy is all of us. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Opioid related measures look to reduce drug abuse and overdoses in Hawaii

Two bills passed this session provide comprehensive approach to combat prescription drug epidemic

As President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress work to reduce prescription opioid-related abuse nationwide, two bills were passed in the State Legislature this session that are designed to monitor and reduce the number of opioid related overdoses here in Hawaii.

SB 2392  provides immunity to health care providers and pharmacies who prescribe, dispense, and distribute opioid antagonists, such as Naloxone, that can reverse the effects of opioid-related overdoses. 

Naloxone is a non-narcotic that blocks opioids, like heroin and oxycodone, yet has no potential for abuse and side effects are rare. When administered during an overdose, it blocks the effects of opioids and restores breathing within 3 minutes.

“This bill will have substantial impacts in addressing the prescription drug epidemic that is ravaging communities across the country and destroying lives in our own state,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti, (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa).  “Senate Bill 2392 includes numerous measures that can immediately decrease the number of deaths in the state related to opioid drug overdoses.”

Belatti chairs the House Health Committee and was instrumental in moving the bills through the legislature.

If signed into law by Gov. David Ige, beginning on January 1, 2017, the bill authorizes all emergency personnel and first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and lifeguards to administer opioid antagonists.  It would also authorize “harm reduction organizations” such as the CHOW (Community Health Outreach Work) Project to store and distribute opioid antagonists. 

“This bill also has a critical public health focus that requires the Department of Health to collect information and report on the trends in unintentional opioid-related drug overdose fatalities that occur each year in the state,” Belatti said. “The DOH is also tasked with working with community partners to provide education and training on opioid-related drug overdose prevention, recognition, response, and treatment.”

According to the Health Department, between 2010 and 2014 there were 270 reported overdoses in Hawaii.

SB 2915 updates the Uniform Controlled Substances Act to make it consistent with amendments in federal controlled substances law and it also includes several provisions addressing the problem of opioids on our community.

“This bill goes beyond the annual update and adopts numerous measures that are designed to tackle the problem of prescription painkiller medications,” Belatti said. “Of particular significance, this bill mandates all practitioners and pharmacies - except veterinarians - to register to use the state’s electronic prescription accountability system.

“This will empower practitioners and pharmacists to be able to retrieve the prescription history of their patients to avoid over-prescriptions and assist in designing the most appropriate care and treatment plans for their patients, especially in instances where controlled substance abuse is suspected.”

This bill is also awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.

President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal provides for $1 billion in new funding to address prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

Last week, Congress voted for a package of initiatives designed to address the opioid addiction.

“Opioid addiction and overdose is an epidemic that we can and must address with every possible means as quickly as possible,” Belatti said.

See Rep. Belatti's Hawaii News Now interview.