5/23/2017 It’s time, finally, to enact kupuna caregivers law

May 23, 2017 | 75° |  Check Tra c

Editorial| Island Voices

It’s time, nally, to enact
kupuna caregivers law
By Kathy Jaycox
Posted May 21, 2017
May 21, 2017

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2016

Seniors were treated to three dozen vendors with products and health information on Kupuna Power Day at the state Capitol.

Twenty-one years ago, at its very rst public assembly in August of 1996, FACE (Faith
Action for Community Equity), an alliance of faith-based and other organizations who
focus on issues of social justice, identi ed long-term care for our kupuna as an issue of
greatest importance to our community.

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5/23/2017 It’s time, finally, to enact kupuna caregivers law

Hawaii has the fastest-aging population and the most people over age 65 per capita in
the nation, so it’s no surprise that there are over 50,000 working caregivers who
provide care for an aging family member. Twice during the next 10 years, FACE worked
successfully with legislators to pass bills addressing long-term care. In both instances,
the bills were vetoed.

Fast forward to 2017. This year, thanks to the e orts of key legislators in both the
House and the Senate, House Bill 607 — the Kupuna Caregivers Bill — unanimously
passed both the House and Senate.

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This bill will help family caregivers by providing up to $70 per day to hire professional
caregivers, home health care workers, or help providing meals or transportation. Its
intent is to provide respite for family caregivers, many of whom face the incredibly
di cult choice between remaining employed to provide for their family or leaving the
workforce to provide care for an aging parent.

When signed by the governor, this legislation will be the rst of its kind in the United
States.

This bill is a win-win-win. Aging family members are able to stay at home, which we
know is the preferred situation for the majority of our kupuna. Unpaid family
caregivers are able to remain in their paid employment at least part-time, protecting
their retirement bene ts.

Plus, employers of family caregivers continue to have an experienced employee on the
job. And nally, new employment opportunities arise for professional caregivers who
can provide respite care.

Having passed with unanimous support in both chambers of the Legislature, there are
many champions of this bill. Most importantly, Sen. Roz Baker, who met directly with
the community and authored the bill, and Rep. Greg Takayama, who worked with the
Kupuna Caucus and introduced the companion bill in the House. Sen. Josh Green and
Rep. Dee Morikawa quickly heard the bill through their respective committees,
demonstrating their commitment to our kupuna. Sen. Jill Tokuda and Rep. Sylvia Luke
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5/23/2017 It’s time, finally, to enact kupuna caregivers law

worked diligently to pass the bill through the money committees in a year almost
completely dominated by the debate over rail funding.

The Kupuna Caregivers program will become a reality only with the approval of Gov.
David Ige. As someone who has shown compassion toward kupuna, the governor has
been sympathetic to caregivers and their families’ struggles to make ends meet in our
local economy. We are hopeful that we can count on his approval and add his name to
the long list of champions of House Bill 607. Governor, our kupuna and their
caregivers await your signature.

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