Molokai – Molokai and Lāna‘i residents often experience unreliable air transportation services, including frequent last-minute schedule changes and cancellations. While this is highly inconvenient for many, it can be devastating for those depending on air transportation for necessary medical services on Maui or O‘ahu.
HB2544, introduced this session by State Representative Mahina Poepoe (District 13, Pā'ia, Haʻikū, Nāhiku, Hāna, Kīpahulu, Kaupō, Molokini, Kahoʻolawe, Lāna'i, Molokai) provides dependable non-emergency medical transportation for residents of medically underserved rural communities by offering chartered flights to seat patients, as well as healthcare providers.
"Delays and flight changes mean patients miss long-awaited appointments and medical care, including chemotherapy, surgical procedures, and dental treatments. Rescheduling may take weeks or sometimes months, potentially turning a routine appointment into a medical emergency," said Rep. Poepoe.
As rural communities, Molokai and Lāna’i are medically underserved, and residents are routinely referred to providers on Maui or O‘ahu for healthcare. Many times, these missed appointments are with busy specialists who are in great demand. Often, patients must book a flight the day before the appointment and stay in a hotel overnight to ensure they arrive on time. This is not only costly but challenging, particularly for our kūpuna and those with caregivers.
"We are proposing not only chartered seats for patients but transportation for healthcare providers who visit rural communities for the day. The planes going to Molokai or Lāna’i from O‘ahu or Maui could transport providers early in the morning, with their return at the end of the day. This provides transportation for needed professionals as well as patients on a round-trip basis," explained Rep. Poepoe. Payment or reimbursement for this pilot project would primarily be from insurers and medical providers.
HB2544 will be heard in a joint hearing by the House Committees on Health & Homelessness and Human Services at the State Capitol on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, at 8:30 a.m. in Room 329. The meeting agenda can be found here, and testifiers can sign up here. For more information, please call the office of Representative Poepoe, (808) 586-6790.