Meet the Fiscal Hawk Trump Chose as Budget Director
HMSA pay scheme discourages doctors
SA: …Patients beware. Hawaii Medical Service Association and Medicare MSA and Medicare are embarking on an alternative payment scheme for primary care and specialty physicians without really knowing how it will affect patient care.
Although the scheme is supposed to pay for quality rather that volume, it really pays for jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Already patients are complaining that doctors pay more attention to the computer than the patient.
Similar payment schemes were tried in the managed care era of the 1990s and it resulted in patients not receiving care. Doctors were literally getting paid for doing nothing.
Hawaii has a significant shortage of doctors.
This new payment scheme is one more disincentive to physicians….
read … Discourage
Suicide Squad Deploys Slanted Poll
CB: Will 2017 be the year for medical aid-in-dying kill-off-expensive–patients legislation for Hawaii?
Compassion & Choices Hawaii has a new poll showing that 80 percent of Hawaii voters believe a “death with dignity” option should be available for a terminally ill person who is mentally capable to receive a prescription for life-ending medication.
The poll, conducted by Anthology Research for Compassion & Choices Hawaii, indicates voters across all demographics believe the option should be legal in Hawaii…
Reality: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii
AP: More Babies Being Born Doped Up with Weed
read … Suicide
Rail: Push is on for Expedited GE Tax Hike
SA: …the new recovery-plan deadline delivered this month by rail’s federal partners has created more uncertainty over just how far the line will go.
April 30 is several months earlier than the July 30 date the city had hoped to get, and its top two elected leaders now disagree over whether the Federal Transit Administration is forcing them to reluctantly pursue a shorter “Plan B.”
That route, an attempt to build to the current $6.8 billion budget, would likely have fewer stations, less ridership and end near Aloha Tower.
Meanwhile, the FTA, which has a $1.55 billion funding deal for rail and has now extended its recovery-plan deadline twice, isn’t shedding much light on what the new date means.
In a statement last week, the agency said it picked April 30 so the city could pursue the funds to fill rail’s latest, multibillion-dollar budget hole “while ensuring that significant progress will continue on the project.”
In all likelihood the April deadline won’t give Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council enough time to secure another rail-tax extension at the state Capitol to fill that hole. The city will probably know where lawmakers stand by the end of April but not have anything signed into law yet.
Typically, the governor waits until the summer to sign bills, let them pass into law or veto them.
Caldwell, state Rep. Sylvia Luke and other local leaders all agreed last week that while it’s technically possible to expedite a rail-funding measure next year, it’s not likely to happen because the project remains so controversial. Caldwell, a former House member, said that he’s asked House Speaker Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku) to expedite the rail bill but considers it a long shot.
That means the city will probably have to file its recovery plan, detailing how it will address rail’s shortfall and hang on to its $1.55 billion in federal funding, before it can secure the money it hopes will solve the crisis.
Even if state legislators do decide to help rail again (they passed a five-year rail-tax extension in 2015), it’s not clear whether the FTA would accept a recovery plan that depends on revenues before they’re signed into law. The agency did not directly respond to that question in its emailed statement.
Recently, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin said in his own statement that the FTA has made it “very clear” with its deadline that the agency wants Honolulu to build rail with the $6.8 billion available “regardless of whether or not it fulfills the vision approved by the voters.”
read … New federal deadline for rail is a curveball for the city
Solar Schemers Outline Plans for 2017 Legislature
SA: …Their three primary choices:
>> Shifting their usage to off-peak time, with lower rates.
>> Investing in “community solar,” owning a share in a PV farm.
>> Buying one of the new battery systems, along with a PV installation, enabling excess energy to be stored and used when the solar cells aren’t producing.
There’s work to be done on all of these fronts. The PUC has scheduled a series of meetings over the next year to hammer out the complications.
One may be regulatory: The permitting process with the counties needs to be streamlined to pick up the pace of getting “self-supply” battery-storage systems online.
Secondly, policymakers must jumpstart the community solar effort, now back-burnered at the PUC. State Rep. Chris Lee, who chairs the House energy committee, said lawmakers may consider legislation establishing the program in statute.
That should be pursued. People who don’t have the means or opportunity to purchase their own system, including renters, ought to have an opportunity to reap the cost savings of solar energy, and the community projects offer them that.
Lee also said the Legislature will revive a bill creating a tax credit to absorb some of the front-end costs for self-supply. Some estimates put the pricetag at around $5,500 for the battery element alone.
Finally, he added, a way to manage that cost could be on-bill financing — paying off the balance incrementally, as part of their electricity usage charge.
The PUC so far has not found a contractor able to handle the accounting for this. However, Lee said, there are models that could be adapted to this purpose.
read … Tax Credits
Hi Tech Tax Credit Scammers to Confer as Legislature Opens
SA: …Blue Startups, a Honolulu-based startup support program, said it will bring investors managing more than $1 billion (number calculated by adding up the net worth of the assembled tax credit scammers) to Hawaii in January.
The startup program announced plans Thursday for the third East Meets West Conference, which will host investors and entrepreneurs tax-credit scammers from Hawaii, Asia and North America at Hilton Hawaiian Village on Jan. 19 and 20.
The conference is hosted by Blue Startups and the state-run HI Growth Initiative (dreaming of Act221 redux). The program supports Hawaii’s entrepreneurs tax credit scammers through events, accelerators and investment slush funds. Gov. David Ige recently announced he would request $10 million of the state budget be used for the HI Growth Initiative so they can give a little more of your tax dollars to the tax credit scammers….
Reality: Auditor: DoTax allows $2B in Tax Credits Without Checking
read … Conference for startups set to include investors
Standing Rock: Another Reason to Reject Fake Indian Tribe for Hawaii
CB: …there are disagreements about whether the Standing Rock experience illustrates the value of federal recognition — or its futility.
There are questions about how much power and influence a Native Hawaiian government might have. And it’s fair to question how much federal recognition helped the Standing Rock Sioux, considering the Dakota Access Pipeline was permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers despite the tribe’s protests.
Native Hawaiians have fought what they see as threats to sacred sites and precious natural resources, and not just atop Mauna Kea. Some say Honolulu’s 20-mile commuter rail line project didn’t fully consider Native Hawaiian burial grounds. And there’s the battle over water rights on Maui, where legislators have repeatedly bent to the will of big business interests.
Jonathan Osorio, a professor at the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii Manoa, is skeptical that federal recognition under Department of Interior rules would amplify Native Hawaiian voices, particularly when it comes to protecting cultural sites and the environment.
Osorio, a Native Hawaiian who wants complete independence from the U.S., worries that conceding to a government-to-government relationship in the same vein as Native Americans is just another way Native Hawaiians can be co-opted. He doesn’t see the benefits, especially given the federal government’s history of reneging on its promises.
“What it would do is it would reduce our options and it would reduce us to the kind of status and power that many American Indian nations have today, and that is being relatively powerless,” Osorio said. “When we look at how these Native American nations really struggled to survive, how they have been marginalized by being placed on smaller and smaller reservations, how even their reservations are not protected if gold or oil is discovered on them, and the continual degradations of their land, I don’t know why the Kanaka Maoli would consent to putting ourselves in that position.”
Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz tends to agree. He said Native Hawaiians have every right to be leery of forming a government-to-government relationship with the U.S. given its track record with Native Americans who were subjected to theft, lies and murder for the sake of westward expansion.
Seitz has spent much of his career fighting the federal government and other bureaucracies, particularly law enforcement. He worked to free Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist convicted of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the 1970s.
Seitz was also successful in defending several Native Hawaiian activists who occupied Kahoolawe in an attempt to stop the military from shelling the island for practice.
“I don’t think there’s any real positive history of tribes being able to negotiate with the United States government that suggest tribes today ought to go down that road,” Seitz said. “They need to have a degree of sovereignty and a power base of some sort, economic or otherwise, that’s going to enable them to protect themselves, much more so than the Indian tribes did historically.”
In his nearly 40 years working as an attorney, Seitz has watched as local, state and federal governments have followed the “custom of giving lip service” to Native Hawaiian concerns, but he said it rarely impedes major developments from moving forward….
Camille Kalama of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation travelled to North Dakota in October along with her partner, Andre Perez, a Native Hawaiian activist, after hearing stories about protesters being attacked by security dogs and arrested.
She too is skeptical of federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, and worries that it could limit their abilities to stand up for themselves.
She also doesn’t trust that the federal government will make the right decision when the time comes, pointing to the fact that the Army Corps only made its decision after thousands of veterans showed up in North Dakota to protect demonstrators who had been threatened with a Dec. 5 evacuation notice.
“How did that decision get so far down that line?” Kalama asked. “We can all see that this is a short-term diffusement of the situation. It’s really a big concern for me that we would be put under the Department of Interior that has a terrible track record when it comes to the treatment of Native Americans.”
Having a direct relationship with the federal government won’t reduce conflicts, she said. There will still be disagreements over issues such as military training at Pohakuloa on the Big Island or water rights on Maui….
(Ex-Gov John Waihee) said it’s difficult to lay out all the specific benefits Native Hawaiians can receive from a government-to-government relationship with the U.S…..he admits the U.S. has a shameful history when dealing with indigenous people, and particularly American Indians….
KGI: Stop fighting, build telescopes
read … Hawaiian Federal Recognition: The Lessons From Standing Rock
Decolonization meetings kick off on Guam
MV: The Commission on Decolonization held the first of a series of village meetings arranged to discuss Guam’s political status Wednesday at the Dededo Community Center.
Revolving around the island’s long-delayed plebiscite that has been in discussions since 1998, the commission has finally launched the village meetings as an educational campaign on the three proposed political options: independence, free association and statehood.
The plebiscite, which would be a non-binding referendum, was supposed to be included in this November’s general election, as intended by Gov. Eddie Calvo, but was pushed back yet again after the commission decided against the idea, failing to launch an aggressive educational campaign beforehand.
read … Decolonization meetings kick off on Guam
Hawaii’s One-Party State Relies on Electoral College for Protection
MW: …First, had the election been conducted with rules awarding the presidency to the popular-vote winner, the candidates and many voters quite probably would have acted very differently and the popular vote would not have been the same. Trump and Clinton would have campaigned in the “safe” states. Potential voters in those states would have felt more pressure to turn out and to vote for “the lesser of two evils” and not to waste their votes on third-party candidates. Some additional Clinton voters would probably have shown up, but gains on the Trump side would probably have been larger as more reluctant Republicans would have been pushed to return to the fold, particularly in big blue states like California, New York, and Illinois (and little blue states like … uh … Hawaii).
In short, a comparison of the national popular vote as cast and the electoral vote division is no simple matter. This is particularly true in our age of pervasive polling in which people should have a good idea about whether they live in a state where their presidential vote might make a difference.
Second, Clinton’s 2.3-million-popular-vote plurality over Trump depends on the votes in a single state: California. Clinton has more than a 4-million-vote plurality over Trump there. In the other 49 states plus the District of Columbia, Trump actually has a 1.7-million-popular-vote plurality over Clinton. So California single-handedly turns a Trump plurality into a Clinton plurality….
read … Hillary Clinton supporters need to quit whining about the Electoral College