Gov. Green returns to Hawai‘i Island where he practiced medicine to sign health care bills
June 22, 2023, 5:43 PM HST
On Thursday, Gov. Josh Green came to Hawai‘i Island — where he worked as an emergency room doctor — to sign his first health bills as the state’s leader.
The ceremony at Kealakehe Clinic in the Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center was a full-circle moment as Green explained he never would’ve come to Hawai‘i if not for the job he got 23 years ago to be a doctor at an East Hawai‘i community health center.
His journey for better health care in rural communities led him to the state legislature and ultimately to be elected governor.
Green signed three bills at the clinic to support healthcare and its access. Outside of the event, he signed 10 additional health care bills.
“Access to health care shouldn’t be a ‘want to have,’ but a ‘need to have,’ and we will continue to work toward finding those solutions that increase access, especially in our rural communities,” Green said.
Several of Hawai‘i Island’s legislators were also at the ceremony, including Rep. Mark M. Nakashima (D-1, Hāmākua, portion of Hilo, Ka‘ūmana) who said healthcare access is critical to the wellbeing of Big Island residents.
“When the only option is to travel to Oʻahu to see a doctor, it can be overwhelming and financially burdensome,” Nakashima said. “I’m pleased with the expansion of telemedicine and the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and health care professionals, which aims to safely increase available healthcare services to neighbor island residents.”
Hawai‘i Island Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe also spoke to the crowd gathered at an outside pavilion at the Kealakehe clinic.
“We call this a modern day pu‘u honua, a place of safety, a place wellness, a place of healing,” he said.
The signed bills address the shortage of health care professionals in the rural communities by creating an easier interstate licensure process while still meeting nationally established standards for education and training. Hawaiʻi currently has about 4,000 healthcare vacancies, including 776 for physicians and 1,000 for nurses, according to governor’s office.
Additional healthcare-related bills signed by Green:
- SB162 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Dentistry
- SB473 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to the Practice of Pharmacy
- SB599 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers
- SB602 SD2 HD1 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers
- SB759 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Community Efforts
- HB660 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to the Issuance of Special Purpose Revenue Bonds
- HB884 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Traveling Team Physicians
- HB1082 HD3 SD2 CD1, Relating to Medical Cannabis
- HB1369 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Nursing Facilities
- HB907 HD2 SD2, Relating to Telehealth