Another Attempt to Reestablish Estate Tax Awaits Approval
Hawaii Doctors Paid Bonus to Dispense Codene
SA: A recent survey revealed that the average price of 60 tablets of acetaminophen 300 mg with codeine 30 mg listed for $24.96 at a pharmacy. Yet, dispensing physicians are billing $50.09 for the same quantity of the same product.
If the insurance companies actually reimburse at this rate to physicians, all pharmacists I know have a serious bone to pick with them. We would be very excited if our reimbursement from prescription benefit managers (PBMs) were the more modest rate of $24.96. Sadly, that is not the case.
Totally Related: Oxycontin Contributions: Clayton Hee, Josh Green, Karl Rhoads and HB466
read … Doctors Paid More to Dispense Codene
Ed Case: I Was Born into Privilege, So What?
SA: Former congressman Ed Case on Saturday urged Democrats to forsake identity politics and choose the Democrat they believe has the best chance to defeat former Gov. Linda Lingle for U.S. Senate in November.
Case, courting Democrats at the party's state convention, said there was too much at stake — including the potential political balance of the Senate — for the party to succumb to old divisions or take the Republican Lingle for granted.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, Case's primary opponent, has used her life story as the daughter of a Japanese immigrant who struggled financially as one element to explain her commitment to Democratic values. Over the past several days, Case, unhappy with the number of debate opportunities, has said that primary voters are familiar enough with the candidates' backgrounds and need to hear their differences on public policy.
"It's profoundly disappointing that former congressman Case attempts to dismiss the significance of Representative Hirono's life story and commitment to helping others through public service as a result of it," said Carolyn Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the Hirono campaign.
"I am a Democrat," he told delegates at the Sheraton Waikiki. "No, no, we are Democrats, not because of where we were born. Not because of how we were raised, where we went to school, where we work. Not because of our gender. Not because of our race. Not because of our age. Not because of our income. Not because of our orientation or any other classification, but because we stand for people.
"All the people. All the time."
Except for these people this time: Ed Case's 2006 "felony" vote: Greens vs. Illegals
And these people: Green hypocrites: Case & Omidyar’s Maui Land & Pine tied to human trafficking case
read … Bourgeois, Desperate for Oppression Cred
Democrat Convention Slaps Down Abercrombie
SA: In a brushback to Gov. Neil Abercrombie and some at the state Legislature, delegates approved a resolution that puts the party on record in opposition to legislative action to exempt public or private construction from environmental review.
Lawmakers considered several bills last session, including some backed by the Abercrombie administration, to exempt state construction projects from environmental review. Most of the bills failed, but the debate left residual anger in the environmental community.
Gary Hooser, the director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, who led the party's environmental committee that produced the resolution, said he was pleased delegates voted to "maintain environmental protections and maintain the public protections and the public interest."
In another push-back aimed at Abercrombie and the Legislature, delegates adopted a resolution calling for respect for public school teachers and their collective bargaining rights. The governor and key lawmakers had favored a bill last session requiring teacher performance evaluations, which the teachers union said would infringe on collective bargaining. The bill failed to advance, but the governor's appointed state Board of Education has moved forward with teacher evaluations.
Delegates softened a resolution that is intended to send a message to elected officials who wander from the party's platform. Delegates reminded elected officials that they should support the platform, but deleted language that would have urged conformity on 60 percent of the planks.
The resolution stemmed from the frustration many party activists have with elected officials who do not adhere to the platform, which is generally more liberal than the views of those who hold office.
Delegates chose not to take action on a proposed resolution that would have required the governor, the congressional delegation and state and county chairs to remain neutral in party primaries.
YouTube: Abercrombie Bellows, Screams at Delegates
read … Senate hopeful urges Democrats to move beyond identity politics
Star-Adv Argues that Rail is too Expensive to Stop
SA: The city has also awarded $2.18 billion in contracts to companies for activities such as building the first 10 miles of elevated guideway, producing rail cars and operating the rail system.
Daniel Grabauskas, executive director of HART, said he can't guess how much it would cost to stop the project and cancel those contracts.
"I know this much. I know we would pay lawyers a boatload of cash to either try to settle or litigate the claims," Grabauskas said. "I don't know what that number is. Honestly, you could come up with a whole range."
Cayetano said he doesn't believe the city has spent more than $500 million on the rail project, and said the "big question" is why the city awarded billions of dollars in contracts and started construction before obtaining a formal guarantee that the federal government will help pay for it.
"Didn't the city understand this risk when they prematurely awarded contracts and started construction?" Cayetano asked.
Longtime rail opponent Cliff Slater agreed that terminating the project at this late stage would be expensive, but he contends that continuing with rail would be even worse.
Slater suggested taxpayers take a businesslike view and treat the money spent on rail like an investment that went bad. Don't dwell on the money that has already been invested because "you'll drive yourself nuts," he said.
"Going forward, is it worth spending now another $5 billion, or $6 billion, or $7 billion, or whatever it is, to finish this off?" Slater said. Slater and Cayetano don't think so, and they are part of a group that is suing in federal court to try to stop the rail project.
More of the same: What exactly is Cayetano's transit plan?
Triple Whammy: Another mayoral debate needs to focus on rail only
read … Creating Concrete Facts in the Ground
Hawaii PEOs carry fight over restrictions to state labor officials
PBN: Hawaii professional employer organizations plan to carry their fight against a recently-passed bill that would impose tighter restrictions and higher fees on their industry to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations next week.
Hawaii Human Resources Inc. , Talent HR Solutions, JS Services Inc., OneSource Inc., Human Resource Administration of Hawaii, and Hawaii Workplace on the Big Island have expressed opposition to Senate Bill 2424, which they describe as anti-competitive and meant to drive smaller PEOs out of business. The bill, which passed the Legislature during this year’s session, is awaiting Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s signature.
Professional employer organizations allow employers to outsource human-resource functions such as employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation by acting as the administrative employer.
Some of the PEOs have already met with members of the Abercrombie administration to express their concerns and plan to meet with Dwight Takamine, director of the Labor Department next week Tuesday.
Related: SB2424: Veto the PEO Bill
read … PEO Bill
UHM Prof: Take Profit out of Medicine
SA: Obamacare is proposing to increase the primary care fees by 10 percent next year, but this may not be adequate to turn the tide of the need to develop more primary care physicians.
I believe that our profit-driven health care system needs to be reformed. Our reimbursing method of paying a fee for each separate service provided has created a health care system in which profits and business management procedures have come to dominate medical care for everyone.
One way of controlling the excesses of our system is to alter our current way of reimbursing primary care physicians through what is called capitation…. (Assembly line medicine. More patients on the roll = more pay)
Best Comment: If Obamacare is implemented, the Doctor may get his wish of physicians essentially receiving a basic government salary in return for services provided as needed, without economic or other incentives to do more than the bare minimum. In return, the "best and the brightest" students may well opt to pursue other careers where the potential rewards will justify their considerable personal investments in time and money. Going to the doctor will be just like going to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
read … A socialist doctor from UH Manoa
76 Companies Want to Develop Waste-to-Energy on Maui
SA: Maui County has been inundated with responses from prospective developers interested in bidding on a waste-to-energy project that would divert about 450 tons of garbage a day from the Central Maui Landfill and burn it to provide power for as many as 12,000 homes.
Seventy-six companies submitted the necessary paperwork with the county Department of Environmental Management, which is looking to create a facility similar to the HPOWER plant on Oahu that has been turning waste into electricity since 1990….
In addition to the waste-to-energy project, Maui County also is seeking a contractor to build a facility that would tap methane gas from the landfill that would generate an additional megawatt of power.
read … Waste-to-Energy
Blas claims he’s a Democrat but he’s registered Republican
HTH: “Democrats and Republicans must work together with the county and state levels,” he said as a Republican candidate seeking to oust Rep. Faye Hanohano in 2008.
Today, he no longer identifies with the GOP.
By 2010, Blas called himself a fiscally conservative Democrat. He defeated another Democrat, Emily Naeole, in the general election and has represented the lower Puna district since.
“I am a Democrat,” Blas said Thursday, as he seeks to represent the 4th Council District in Puna. He had explained in the past that a sour experience with the Republican Party in his 2008 campaign had prompted him to switch sides.
But the state GOP executive director says he’s still registered with the party.
“He is still in our records. He’s listed as a member,” said Nacia Blom. “There’s no (indication) that says he asked to be removed as a member.” ….
Ken Goodenow, treasurer of the Hawaii County Democratic Party, and a 2nd District County Council candidate, did not have any information on whether Blas had registered with the party locally or with the state organization.
According to the database maintained by the state Democratic Party, Blas is not a member, said administrative assistant Jason Kamalu.
“It doesn’t look like he is listed in our membership database,” Kamalu said. “Nope, I’ve got nothing.”
read … Say bye-bye to the Big Island's only Republican Officeholder
Amazing News: Alt Energy Project Cancelled—‘Not Cost Effective’
WHT: A $1 million Waimea project, for which Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Friday he had released funding, won’t be going ahead after all.
State Sens. Malama Solomon and Gilbert Kahele announced last month the funding for the Waimea hydropower project, which would have tied into the Waimea irrigation system. Abercrombie made the funding announcement as part of a broader announcement about watershed protection and water resources management on Friday.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said late Friday the department received a feasibility study this week on the project, and learned it would not be feasible to construct the plant. The department decided against moving ahead on the project.
“Our engineer said that the cost-benefit ratio was way off,” spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi said. “Because the water flows through the pipeline only when the farmers are drawing water (which is not constant or consistent), it would not generate enough power to make it worth the cost of the system.”
(OK, when will they apply this logic to wind and solar projects?)
read … Not Cost Effective
North Korea May Detonate Nuke Tomorrow
UK Telegraph: In spite of universal condemnation of its failed attempt to launch what Pyongyang claimed was a rocket to put a satellite into orbit in April, North Korea appears to be putting the finishing touches to a test detonation of a nuclear device.
Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for South Korea's Ministry of Defence, said on Thursday that intelligence reports indicate the North has completed its technical preparations to carry out the long-awaited test and that it could go ahead at any time.
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri site and other data show that the tunnel that had been excavated for the test has been refilled, indicating that the nuclear device has been put in place.
There is speculation that the test may be timed to coincide with the Memorial Day national holiday in the United States, which falls in Monday.
read … Nothing to see here, just move along
Green Energy Scammers Turn Eyes to Japan
SA: "We wish to come up with a common standard between Okinawa and Hawaii so that it's easier to disseminate information to the Pacific Island forum," Shikata said.
Clune discussed ocean thermal energy conversion and the Hawaii-Okinawa Partnership on Clean and Efficient Energy Development and Deployment at the workshop, Shikata said. Participants also talked about using electric vehicles and smart grids and balancing energy sources, he said.
The dialogue was particularly relevant for Japan, which must determine a new energy mix on the heels of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Shikata said.
"We should have specific figures by summer," he said. "What we know is that we will reduce our dependency on nuclear power. Prime Minister Noda does not have any plan to build new nuclear power plants and we'll be pushing for solar, wind and geothermal. We are looking to further improve energy efficiency."
While Japan is already the most energy-efficient country in the world, Shikata said, it is pushing for more collaboration. This emphasis will create more opportunity for partnerships in places like Hawaii, he added.
read … No Nukes