This appeared in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
Lingle administration abandons kids in need
This is a sad day for children who have no health insurance and don't qualify for other government programs. The Lingle administration abruptly pulled out of its agreement to fund the Keiki Care program, even though the Hawaii Medical Service Association has partnered with the state to pay half the premiums (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 17). In August, the Legislature expanded Keiki Care to cover kids whose parents were laid off from Aloha Airlines, Molokai Ranch and other business closures.
HMSA was surprised by the administration's move, and so was the Legislature. We're proud that Hawaii became one of the first states in the nation to ensure that every child has access to health care. Human Services director Lillian Koller has not provided us with any information on why the program is ineffective. HMSA contends that it's working well, that more than 2,000 children may be impacted, and it has stepped up to the plate to take over the entire cost until the end of the year.
At the very time her administration is abandoning local children who have no other options for health insurance, Gov. Linda Lingle is on the mainland poisoning audiences with lines like Barack Obama is "not really from Hawaii." She's the very one who seems to have lost her way and her aloha spirit. Even in bad economic times, those who fall through the health care safety net should remain a core priority.
Rep. Kirk Caldwell
Majority Leader - House of Representatives