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.
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.
“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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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell