By Keli’i Akina
State lawmakers handed Hawaii residents an incredible victory this week within the effort to enhance healthcare entry in Hawaii.
Gov. Josh Inexperienced signed a sequence of healthcare-related payments on Wednesday — and a type of was SB674, which permits Hawaii to enter the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
Becoming a member of the compact will make it simpler for docs from the 37 different member states to acquire a license to apply in Hawaii, which is able to assist ease Hawaii’s longstanding physician scarcity.
The most recent estimate is that Hawaii is brief practically 800 “full-time equal” docs. Main care physicians are most in demand, however the lack of sure medical specialists is so extreme that sufferers from some areas within the state are compelled to fly to Honolulu — and even the mainland — to obtain the healthcare they want.
In different phrases, we’ve got lengthy wanted a sequence of reforms focused at enhancing healthcare entry in Hawaii — and now that’s beginning to occur. I commend the Legislature for passing SB674, and Gov. Inexperienced for signing it.
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii truly had an enormous hand in getting SB674 throughout the legislative end line. Firstly of the yr, we printed a coverage transient titled “How altering Hawaii’s licensing legal guidelines may enhance healthcare entry” that mentioned the methods wherein licensing restrictions contribute to our scarcity of medical professionals and lack of entry to healthcare typically.
One answer proposed within the report is that Hawaii ought to be part of a number of of the interstate licensure compacts that enable docs, nurses and different medical professionals to extra simply apply throughout state strains.
That line of reasoning struck a chord with Hawaii lawmakers, and two of them — Well being Committee Chairs Della Au Belatti within the Home and Pleasure San Buenaventura within the Senate — launched payments based mostly on mannequin laws proposed by the Grassroot Institute.
Each chambers supported SB674 virtually unanimously on its approach to the governor’s desk, and now that Gov. Inexperienced has signed it, physicians from across the nation will get pleasure from an expedited path to licensure in our state.
In fact, merely becoming a member of the IMLC received’t clear up Hawaii’s doctor scarcity by itself. However it may begin an exquisite pattern of eradicating the regulatory obstacles that make it unreasonably troublesome for different healthcare suppliers to apply in our state as nicely.
So what ought to our subsequent steps be?
I recommend that Hawaii lawmakers discover having the state be part of different interstate compacts for medical professionals, such because the Nurse Licensure Compact, the Bodily Remedy Licensure Compact, the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, the EMS Compact and the Superior Observe Registered Nurse Compact.
At a minimal, Hawaii may create its personal license recognition course of or set up an expedited path to state licensure for medical professionals who maintain legitimate licenses from states.
Lawmakers additionally ought to exempt medical providers from the state basic excise tax. As my Grassroot Institute colleague Malia Hill defined in one other coverage transient we issued early this yr, Hawaii is certainly one of solely two states that tax medical providers and the one state to tax providers for TRICARE and Medicare beneficiaries.
Hawaii docs have been saying for years that the GET — which is usually not handed on to the affected person — is a considerable overhead price that makes it tougher and costly to apply.
Lastly, our lawmakers ought to take a tough have a look at the rules that forestall development and enlargement of healthcare amenities in our state.
It is likely to be exhausting to consider, however Hawaii’s “certificates of want” legal guidelines require state approval for every little thing from new hospitals to the acquisition of medical gear or development of recent rehab facilities.
Whereas many states are actually repealing their CON legal guidelines — in response to analysis displaying that they restrict healthcare entry and drive up prices — Hawaii continues to implement among the strictest “want” legal guidelines within the nation. Clearly, there’s extra we will do to make healthcare in Hawaii extra plentiful, responsive and inexpensive.
However for now, allow us to rejoice that Hawaii has taken an necessary step within the journey to a greater healthcare system by becoming a member of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. I sit up for our lawmakers eradicating extra of the obstacles that restrict healthcare entry for Hawaii residents.
Keli‘i Akina is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.