The Hawaii Legislature passed a package of bills Tuesday that provides millions of dollars to elderly care programs.

The bills will now to Gov. David Ige for his approval. The funds for kupuna programs were some of the larger budget requests left out of the state’s operating budget passed in March.

House Bill 465 would appropriate an additional $8.2 million over the next two years for programs that provide the elderly access to basic services like bathing, eating, shopping and purchasing medications.

The base budget already included $9 million for the programs.

FACE supporters SB2478 relating to long term care sit in Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health meeting chaired by Sen Ros Baker.
A long-term care program supporter sits at the Capitol in 2016. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Senate Bill 1025 would add $1.5 million to the budget in the coming fiscal year beginning July 1 for home caregivers. The bill also changes the amount of compensation caregivers can apply for from $70 to $210 a week.

Rep. Gregg Takayama said that allows caregivers more flexibility in how they use the money. Takayama said, as an example, if a family wanted to hire an at-home nurse for certain services, they’d be in a better position to do that.

Sente Bill 366 would fund an Alzheimer’s services coordinator in the Executive Office on Aging tasked with updating the state’s Alzheimer’s plan that has not been amended since 2003, Sen. Sharon Moriwaki said at a press conference Tuesday.

That coordinator will also collect data on how the disease affects Hawaii, Moriwaki said.

House Bill 468 would provide $550,000 to fund two health programs for Hawaii’s elderly. One teaches kupuna how to manage their chronic health conditions. The other is a health and fitness program.

Those programs got funding in 2017, but received no funds from the state last year.

The appropriations come at a time other big-ticket budget requests are also moving out of the Legislature or have already cleared the governor’s desk. They include disaster relief for the Big Island, emergency funds for highway repairs on Oahu and Maui and the Hawaii Promise Program.

Lawmakers had to fit all that into the budget while also dealing with a projected slowdown in economic growth that could result in $80 million less in tax revenues going into the next fiscal year, according to the state Council on Revenues.

“To make this kind of commitment in this financial situation speaks volumes to where the money chairs put the priority of the funds we do have available,” Sen. President Ron Kouchi said at the press conference.

Kouchi was referring to Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke.

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