Isles receive $1.3 million
for health coverage

The grant will help develop
programs for uninsured residents

Star-Bulletin staff

A $1.3 million grant has been awarded to the state for three years to develop programs to make health insurance available to uninsured residents.

The state Health Department, working with The Hawaii Uninsured Project, received the demonstration grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Gov. Linda Lingle said the grant "represents the beginning of a strong collaborative effort by private and public sectors to meet the health insurance needs of Hawaii's people."

The state received a $150,000 planning grant in 2001 from the foundation that was used for a health summit to begin looking at options.

The Hawaii Uninsured Project, now in its fourth year, is surveying the community, analyzing data and developing economic models to identify cost-effective methods of covering the uninsured.

The project was created by organizations concerned about making health care more accessible and is administered by the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs.

Joan White, the project's executive director, said the state's uninsured rate has doubled over the past 10 years. Hawaii had the lowest number of uninsured in the nation in the early 1990s. The last U.S. Census report estimated the rate at 10.76 percent, or about 117,000 people, she said. Health-care officials believe the rate is closer to 13 percent or 14 percent now.

"This is a matter that affects us all through higher health costs, decreased productivity and increased use of social services that are paid for by all taxpayers," White said.

Ten states beat Hawaii out of its leading position with the lowest uninsured rate in 2000-2001, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation ranking. Hawaii tied with Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri and South Dakota with a 10 percent uninsured rate.

Delaware, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania had 9 percent. The lowest, with 8 percent, were Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Collaborating with the Health Department on the uninsured project are the Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation, Hawaii Pacific Health, state Department of Human Services, state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Papa Ola Lokahi, Hawaii Primary Care Association, Hawaii Health Information Corp., Aloha United Way, Hawaii Community Foundation, University of Hawaii, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Benefit Plan Consultants, Inc., Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Molokai General Hospital, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Hawaii Covering Kids, Kaiser Permanente and Ho'ola Lahui Hawaii.

For more information, see

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
State Health Department

E-mail to City Desk


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