I spent my week in Hawaii hoping to meet Lt. Governor Duke Aiona who was called out of the country earlier in the week. My hopes were to discuss the lack of low income housing in Hawaii and their failed health care initiative. Hawaii often takes bold steps to address the issues that face its poorest. An example of this is their now failed Keiki Health Care program, which means it targeted uninsured children. The program failed, but it speaks to the state’s willingness to address expensive problems. Remember that Hawaii is not one of the wealthier states. Per capita income in Honolulu hovers around $40,000 a year, to say nothing of the almost $20,000 a year earned by those living in Kalawao County. Yet, this state’s government makes attempts at public policy that the national government has yet to explore on a serious level.
It is an absolute must to point out that this health care plan did not work. Should the new federal administration think that the Keiki model is to be attempted on a grander scale; the kinks would have to be worked out in advance.
The Keiki system left open the door for those families with insurance to drop their coverage and use the state plan – even if they were already insured. This caused the state plan to collapse. The Keiki Plan is a good plan however. No child should be left behind. There is money for this kind of plan, if the income standards are strict. Families with incomes in the $70,000 might be too high on the income level for state sponsored health care. Income level standards based on the standard of living in a specific area might be a good start. Proof of income would be a necessity, especially for those who work in the service industry and show a lower income than might actually be the case.
Perhaps the next few years will not be the very best time for this kind of health care plan at the national or state levels, but soon enough we need to have a basic health insurance plan for children. The Republican Party dropped the ball on this when they had majorities in both houses. It would have been a way to address healthcare without ‘going too far.’ We would still be able to say that people have to go out and earn their own way by working and getting their insurance through an employer – but our children would have the insurance they need, regardless of their parents’ lot in life. It would have been an issued tailor made for a compassionate conservative governor from Texas.
While in Hawaii, I needed to see a doctor for a sinus infection. While the doctor began writing scripts for meds, I told him that I had no prescription drug insurance. He told me that he would write scripts for generics and that I could go to Kmart and I could tell them I had no insurance and they would give me meds for $5. I had heard of Walmart and Target doing this as well. The big box stores do it as a public service. The government has to work with these successful companies to carve out a plan for the uninsured. Above all, however, children need to be priority one.
We will see new policy now, and much of it will come from those who have waited a long time to submit bills to the house floor – many of this legislation will be lengthy and expensive. Let us hope that some of the good stuff doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.