Upgrading Medevac services. Continuing efforts she began over 8 years ago to provide emergency medical helicopter service to Maui County, Sen. Roz Baker recently helped secure additional funding for a significant helicopter upgrade and backup Medevac service, as well as a new helipad for Maui Memorial Medical Center.
The faster, smoother Bell 430 helicopter began operating on June 1, 2012, replacing the smaller Bell 222 helicopter that had been in service since September 2004. The older helicopter will continue to be used as a backup, ensuring continuous emergency medical helicopter service for patients on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
According to Curt Morimoto, Maui County operations manager for American Medical Response’s helicopter patient transport service, Sen. Roz Baker was a “champion” of the effort to secure state funding through special legislation that hinged on the county paying half the cost.
“I think we’ve done it the most cost effective way it could be done. It’s been a good collaboration,” Sen. Baker said. “Even when times got tough, the state and the county hung in there because they know how critical the service is. I just can’t imagine not having the service. There’s no bridge between here and Molokai and Lanai.”
Since the service began, it has handled 340 medical missions, 18 percent from Molokai. Several of the Molokai transports have been from Kalaupapa. Officials hope to soon see patients transported by helicopter not just from Maui County, but from other islands as well.
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Fighting for distressed homeowners. Over recent years, mortgage foreclosures in Hawai’i have increased rapidly so that our state now holds the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.
As Chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee (CPN), Sen. Baker championed the reform of Hawai’i's foreclosure law creating landmark legislation in 2011 (SB651) that helps distressed homeowners get a fair shake and ensures homeowners are protected against fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 651 bill into law as Act 48 last year.
After the mortgage foreclosure task force completed the second year of their work, state legislators passed House Bill 1875 in May 2012 to further refine the Hawaii foreclosure law while still preserving the intent and spirit of the original reform bill.
HB 1875 provides additional protections for Hawaii homeowners and addresses the non-judicial foreclosure process for homeowners and condominium owners associations.
For more details on the new foreclosure reform bill, click here.
Advancing health policies. A major proponent for developing better public health policies in our State, Roz served for four years as Senate Health Chair from 2002-2006 and currently, as a member of the Senate Health Committee.
She recently received the National Distinguished Advocacy Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in recognition of her years of commitment to strong public health and tobacco control policies.
Here is some of her landmark legislation:
- In 2006, Sen. Baker worked to pass Hawai’i's secondhand smoke law – at the time, the most comprehensive and far-reaching smoking law in the nation.
- Passage of oral chemotherapy coverage, colon cancer screening coverage and the state health care exchange coverage enabling laws.
- Increasing the cigarette tax to provide funding for tobacco control, cancer research, the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center and the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Roz’s work on public health and tobacco control policy was recognized in 2007 with the Exemplary State Elected Official Comprehensive Cancer Control Leadership Award, C-Change, presented by President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush. She again received this award in 2011 for her continued efforts in cancer control.
She was also recognized by the Friends of the Cancer Research Center of Hawai’i with the Mauka-Makai Award and by the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific with the Patti Schuler Award.
Protecting the consumer. Under Sen. Baker’s leadership of the Commerce and Consumer Protection committee, numerous measures were successfully introduced and became law. This included procedures to:
- Modernize insurance regulations
- Allow the continuation of preferential rates for agricultural producers from interisland water carriers
- Strengthen identity theft laws
- Secure long term funding for Public Access Television statewide