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LETTERS for July 12 issue

By Staff | Jul 12, 2012

Raise speed limits on the highway

Mahalo to the state Highways Division for all the repaving and improvements on Honoapiilani Highway from Honokowai to Napili.

Can we now have our “45 MPH” signs back?

The “35 MPH” is ridiculous, especially since downtown Lahaina is 40 MPH on the highway.



When will Puukolii Road be repaired?

Over the last ten years that I’ve lived in the Kaanapali Hillside area, I’ve seen the steady destruction of Puukolii Road caused primarily by large construction trucks. The destruction has slowed due to the economy killing new home construction, but the road is still “gawd awful” to drive on.

Over the years, a number of attempts have been made to get the road repaved. Meetings with Public Works, letter writing campaigns to the mayor, contacting the West Maui council person and letters to local news papers… nothing has worked.

About a year ago, I decided to contact the new West Maui Councilwoman, Elle Cochran, about the condition of the road. I was eventually told that the road had been examined using Google Earth, that it is in bad condition and Ms. Cochran would work to have money put into the budget to have it repaved. Wowsers!

In today’s Lahaina News, Cochran patted herself on the back for all the money she had gotten for West Maui projects. Great! I’ll call her office to see when paving starts.

Fat chance.

I talked to the same young man who repeated, almost verbatim, the same tired old excuses that have been thrown around for years. Bottom line: Puukolii is not on anyone’s radar in county government and probably won’t be in the near or distant future.

There are over 900 residences that depend on Puukolii. It’s time to flex that muscle with county government and get our road paved. If we don’t get the answer we want, then it’s time to make a change at the ballot box. My guess is that with the number of votes we have in our little slice of heaven, we can affect the upcoming election.

MIKE SOWERS, Kaanapali


Supreme Court decision is good for Maui

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health care reform bill – the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obama Care” – in its entirety in a 5-4 decision.

Maui is considered a rural area and is medically under-served. What does the court’s decision mean for Maui?

First, the ACA works toward increasing jobs in rural areas, such as Maui, by expanding Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). The AHEC supports training programs, such as the Nursing Program at the University of Hawaii Maui College in Kahului and the U.H. Medical Center. Currently, there are 73 unfilled jobs in health care on Maui, which potentially Maui residents could fill after they receive training from an AHEC program.

Second, the ACA supports Critical Access Hospitals, such as the proposed West Maui Hospital, by allowing such a hospital to receive 101 percent reimbursement for Medicare costs. Also, it allows low-cost medications to such a hospital through the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

Third, the ACA provides those over the age of 50 who do not have insurance through an employer with one free annual wellness visit, mammograms or prostate cancer screenings starting in 2014.

Fourth, the ACA will provide for more equitable payment to all health care providers. In accordance with the ACA, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation for the “Hawaii Health Connector” to serve as the state’s health insurance exchange program, which is required to be in place in 2014. According to the governor’s June 13 news release, “Its web portal will serve as a one-stop-shop where individuals and small businesses can find, compare and purchase the best, most economical health insurance plans available to them. The Medicaid eligibility system will be integrated into the exchange.”

Fifth, the ACA prohibits insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or from discriminating against anyone with a preexisting condition.

One drawback of the ACA is that those who do enroll in some kind of medical insurance plan will pay a penalty to the IRS. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website, “The penalty will be phased-in according to the following schedule: $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016 for the flat fee or 1.0 percent of taxable income in 2014, 2.0 percent of taxable income in 2015, and 2.5 percent of taxable income in 2016. Beginning after 2016, the penalty will be increased annually by the cost-of-living adjustment.”

However, federal funding of the ACA programs must first be approved by Congress. Stay tuned, as this could make or break the ACA.

Regardless if the ACA becomes a “mandate without money,” health care reform is already making a difference for the people of Hawaii. According to HealthCare.gov, the following benefits have been tallied.

As of December 2011, 6,000 young adults in Hawaii gained insurance coverage, because the ACA allows parents to use family health insurance to cover their children under age 26.

In addition, about 25,000 Hawaii residents with Medicare received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. In 2012, about 50,000 Hawaii residents with Medicare received free preventive services.

Also according to HealthCare.gov, Hawaii’s affordable Preexisting Condition Insurance plans cover a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care and prescription drugs.

In addition, lifetime limits on benefits are banned for all new health insurance plans starting in 2014, impacting about 500,000 residents with chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

Millions of ACA money has come to Hawaii for programs to prevent the spread of HIV, reduce obesity, improve behavioral health services and modernize vaccine systems.

Time will tell if Congress will support the ACA in continuing its work.

EVE CLUTE, Doctor of Public Health


West Maui Strangers at the door

You are at home peacefully watching TV. There’s a knock on the door. It is a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a lei. There is also a woman with two kids sitting in a SUV.

The man says he has just arrived from the Mainland and is glad to meet you. That he was referred by Sidney, who claims to be an old friend.

You remember Sidney faintly, but you didn’t like him.

After a brief conversation, the man acts like he wants to be invited in to hang out, use the bathroom, get tourist advice and perhaps go to lunch with him and his family.

In the interest of self-preservation of your peace, you must think fast. You tell him your wife has a lot of red spots on her, and the doctor is coming.

You send him on his way without feeling guilt for your lack of aloha.

This type of thing happens to many of us living on Maui. If we don’t like it here, we can move to Peoria.