JULY 6, 2019


Hawaii Joins Other States to Oppose Calculation of Federal Poverty Threshold

Attorney General Clare E. Connors said Hawaii has joined a multistate coalition of 21 attorneys general, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York Attorney General Letitia James, in submitting a comment letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), opposing a proposal to change the way the federal poverty threshold is calculated. According to the attorneys general, an adjustment could result in millions of Americans becoming ineligible for, or entitled to less, government-funded benefits.

A wide range of federal and state programs, including those that provide food stamps and health care assistance, rely on federal poverty thresholds to set eligibility standards. In their comments, the attorneys general argue that OMB’s proposal to alter the way the poverty thresholds are updated over time could result in denying millions of people the assistance they deserve.

“OMB has not sufficiently justified these proposed changes,” said Attorney General Connors. “If enacted, the proposed changes would negatively impact members of our community who rely the most upon a wide range of federal and state programs.”

For the purposes of calculating the federal poverty threshold, OMB defines inflation as a rise in the general level of prices and represents a decline in the purchasing power of money. In the comments, the attorneys general highlight research that shows low-income populations experience inflation at rates higher than other populations, and argue that lowering the measure of inflation will lower the poverty threshold and reduce the number of people who are deemed to be living in poverty and who are therefore eligible for federal benefits.


Report Shows Hawaii Third-Most Dangerous State for Elderly Pedestrians

Dangerous by Design 2019 ranked Hawai‘i 30th in the nation based on the number of overall pedestrian fatalities. However, Hawai‘i is the third-most dangerous state for pedestrians 50 and older.

“Our kupuna should not have to cross their fingers that they will be safe every time they cross the street,” said Jackie Boland, AARP Hawai‘i’s Outreach Director. “Hawaii has spent more than a decade ranked in the top three states for older pedestrian/auto crashes per capita and it is time for the counties and the state to look at the root cause of these crashes that are disproportionately affecting our kupuna and design specific counter measures to address them.”

In the decade between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 226 pedestrians in Hawai‘i. A disproportionate number of the deaths were kupuna. About 59.3 percent of the pedestrian deaths, or 134 people, were 50 and older. A 50+ pedestrian in Hawai‘i is 2.6 times more likely to die on the state’s streets and highways than someone under 50.

Hawai’i has the dubious distinction of having the highest per-capita deaths of people 65 and older, with 3.56 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents 65 or older. The average is down from the last Dangerous by Design report in 2016 when Hawai‘i’s per capita death rate was 4.96 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents 65 and older. Ten years ago, in the 2009 report, Hawai’i led the nation in 65+ pedestrian deaths with an average of nearly seven deaths per capita.

The Dangerous By Design report looked at the difference between per capita deaths of older and younger pedestrians to rank how dangerous a state is for older residents.


Hawai‘i Department of Health Launches Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Campaign

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) launched its annual senior fall prevention awareness campaign on June 17 and it will continue through July 27.

The campaign features a broadcast public service announcement, educational video about fall prevention, distribution of materials with medication reviews and balance testing information, “A Matter of Balance” coaches trainings, Tai Chi for Health Institute classes, and community presentations about preventing falls among older adults.

“As Hawai‘i’s population continues to age, it is important for everyone to be prepared and equipped to prevent falls, especially among older adults,” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, deputy director of health resources. “Simple falls may seem relatively harmless, but they can significantly impact the overall health and well-being of elderly adults and could lead to severe injury and sometimes death.”

Statistics from DOH’s Emergency Medical Services & Injury Prevention Branch (EMSIPSB) show that about 130 seniors in Hawai‘i die each year from fall-related injuries, and another 9,400 are treated in hospitals for non-fatal injuries, including nearly 1,900 who are hospitalized.

DOH offers the following advice to seniors, family members and caregivers to prevent falls and fall-related injuries:

  • Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications annually;
  • Get an eye exam at least once a year;
  • If you live alone, get a life-saving Personal Electronic Safety Device;
  • Make your home safer by removing fall hazards and improving lighting; and
  • Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility.


State Leaders Meet with Private Sector Leaders to Discuss Energy Innovation

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and Hawaii Energy hosted a roundtable discussion with Mayors Kirk Caldwell, Derek Kawakami and Michael Victorino, and Hawaii County Deputy Director of Research and Development Ron Whitmore on Hawaii’s leading role in energy innovation to confront climate change through efficiency and renewable resources.

“As an island state, Hawaii must face the realities of climate change and take bold steps to mitigate its impact,” Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President & CEO said. “The Chamber and our business community will continue to play a vital role in addressing climate change and facilitating our state’s transition to 100% renewable energy. Convening our state’s top leaders to discuss how we can work together is a critical step in this transition, and we thank Hawaii Energy for making this event possible.”

Hawaii Energy Executive Director Brian Kealoha facilitated a discussion on how counties can work together to promote environmental sustainability, the use of renewable energy and the mitigation of sea level rise and other effects of climate change. The Mayors and Deputy Director Whitmore presented on the innovative programs that their counties are undertaking to support these efforts.

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