Healthcare Roundtable at District Office
Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii - On February 18, 2017, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa convened an ACA/Medicaid/Medicare Healthcare Roundtable to discuss the possible impact of an Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) repeal and/or replacement on Hawaii residents and Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act (“PHCA”). Stakeholders present included Hawaii State House Health Committee Chair Della Au Belatti, Director of the State Director of Labor and Industrial Relations Linda Chu Takayama, MedQuest Administrator Judy Mohr Peterson, Ph.D, and representatives from the healthcare industry, including insurers and hospitals, as well as AARP and constituents. All expressed concerns about the potential loss of important benefits provided by the ACA, resulting in greater financial burdens on the state and individual taxpayers.
Two particular concerns raised by state representatives include (1) the effect of an ACA repeal and/or replacement on Hawaii’s PHCA; and (2) the loss of funding for the Medicaid population. Enacted in 1974, the PHCA requires employers to provide health insurance to most employees and in some circumstances provides broader protections than the ACA. The existence and interplay of the PHCA and repeal and/or replacement of the ACA remains uncertain and close coordination between state and federal legislators will be key in ensuring that Hawaii ‘s citizens are protected.
The panel was also concerned about Hawaii’s loss of funding for its Medicaid program. Hawaii was one of the states opting to expand Medicaid, a key feature of the ACA. According to MedQuest Administrator Peterson, Hawaii’s Medicaid program faces a $230 million shortfall if the existing Medicaid provisions of the ACA are repealed. Funding of this multimillion dollar shortfall could fall on Hawaii residents if coverage levels were maintained.
Although the precise terms of any ACA repeal and/or replacement bill remains unknown, all participants committed to coordinate efforts to ensure that Hawaii’s citizens are protected. The lack of a unified GOP proposal fuels the uncertainty of the timing and nature of any repeal and/or replacement. Congresswoman Hanabusa will continue to monitor ACA legislation and work with stakeholders to ensure that Hawaii’s citizens are protected.