Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs, Sunday, Dec. 11


Mr. and Mrs. Claus and helper Mary Jane Balio have been hosting the
Pahala Christmas Parade for nearly four decades.
It starts at 1 p.m. today. Photo by Julia Neal
PROTECTING MEDICARE from privatization and voucherization is a major focus for Sen. Mazie Hirono. She testified in Congress this past week that for many people in Hawaiʻi “Medicare is the difference between life and death, between living with dignity or in abject poverty. It is as dramatic as that. Before we passed Medicare 51 years ago, slightly more than half of seniors, our kūpuna in Hawaiʻi, had health insurance. Millions could barely afford routine medical care, let alone treatment for catastrophic illness” until Medicare was established, she said.
    Hirono called Medicare “a part of the commitment we have made to care for and honor our kūpuna.”
     However, there are efforts in Washington D.C., she said, to privatize and voucherize Medicare. She called the campaign “a clear and present danger to seniors” and promised to “do everything in my power to stop our new president and his allies in Congress from shredding this crucial safety net program.”
    Hirono reported that over the past months U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan “has made it clear he intends to resurrect his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program for private insurance. Under his system private insurers could deny or delay coverage because seniors would no longer have Medicare’s consumer protections. His plan caps the value of the vouchers to the point they will not keep up with the rising cost of health care,” Hirono contended.
    The Congressional Budget Office, Hirono reported, calculated that the Ryan plan would increase out of pocket expenses to $6,000 a year for millions of seniors, many of them already on fixed income. She said voucherzing Medicare would hurt more than 217,000 seniors in Hawaiʻi.
    Hirono said privatizing would lead many seniors to search the private market to find health insurance. “How do you think they will be able to accomplish that? Are the insurance companies going to step up to take care of some the most vulnerable members of our population even though it is not profitable to do so? I don't think so,” she said.
    She pointed out that during his campaign for President, Donald Trump “said the right things about protecting Medicare, but choosing Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services sends the opposite message.” She said that for years Price has been Ryan’s closest ally in his crusade to privatize and voucherize Medicare.
    Hirono called saving Medicare “a daunting fight but I am not going to shy away from it. I am going to do whatever I can, whenever I can to protect Medicare for our seniors.”
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“STANDING UP FOR MIDDLE CLASS WORKERS” is how Sen. Mazie Hirono described her vote. She joined with 36 U.S. Senators who banned together “after Congressional Republicans moved to deny thousands of mine workers and widows the health care they earned,” she said. Senators who voted together Friday against a government funding bill that reduced health care for retired miners and families, included Brian Schatz, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown and Harry Reid. The hui wanted the bill that funds the federal government to guarantee the miners’ health insurance for a longer commitment. The funding bill passed without it, but the Senators said they made their point, illuminating the dangers on the horizon for health care.   
Sen. Mazie Hirono said she voted for health care protection
for retired coal miners to send a message to Donald 
Trump and Congress. Photo from Readers Magazine
   Hirono said that, “People in our country need to know who’s on their side. Workers in this country are getting screwed every single second, minute, and hour of the day. I’m taking a stand on this bill to stand with them. This fight is not just about coal miners. It’s about all working people. Today, it’s the coal miners. Tomorrow, it will be federal workers and other labor unions.
    “I opposed this bill to send a message to Congressional Republicans and President-elect Trump. I will resist every attempt they make to weaken unions or to deny working people the benefits they’ve earned,” Hirono promised.
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U.S. SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ WILL OPPOSE DONALD TRUMP’S NOMINEE FOR CHIEF OF EPA. Schatz posted on his facebook: “President-Elect Donald Trump nominated a climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. This is offensive and I'm going to do everything I can to stop him from being confirmed,” said Schatz.
     The nominee is Scott Pruitt, Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. According to Forbes, Pruitt is suing the EPA over Pres. Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and describes himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” “Partnering with utilities, oil, gas, mining and other industrial companies, the Pruitt suits also fight federal rules aimed at protecting endangered species and improving air quality,” Forbes reports.
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Jami Beck

PĀHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE IS TODAY, beginning at 1 p.m., starting at Pāhala Armory and winding through the hillside village to Kaʻū Hospital and ending at Holy Rosary Church where there will be refreshments. It is the 38th year for the parade organized by Eddie Andrade. Community groups, churches, politicians, sports teams, Kaʻū Coffee farmers and musicians often participate.

DEADLINE IS TOMORROW TO SUPPORT JAMI BECK for Miss Photogenic in the Miss Teen Hawaiʻi Pageant. The deadline is Monday, Dec. 12. Beck will participate in the statewide pageant on Sunday, Dec. 18 at Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. Beck is a graduate of Kaʻū High School and attends the University of Hawaiʻi in Hilo. She is a youth ranger at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Vote at Facebook.com.

FRIEND-RAISER IS NĀʻĀLEHU ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S Winter Fest theme for Saturday. Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Make New Friends,” declares the poster, which also reports on opportunities to enjoy shave ice, drinks, hot dogs – all for $1. Games are 50 cents. Also featured is a bounce house, raffle, bake sale, splash booth, jail, face painting and information vendors. Winter Fest is sponsored by the Nāʻālehu School Council.

REP. RICHARD CREAGAN’S OCEAN VIEW FORUM we will be at Ocean View Community Center on Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Creagan represents District 5 in the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives and chairs the Committee on Agriculture. District 5 includes Honuʻapo to Nāʻālehu, to Ocean View, to Capt. Cook, Kealakekua and part of Kailua-Kona. A statement from his offices says that in his new chairmanship, he “is excited to help the Big Island and all of Hawaiʻi increase agriculture for all farmers across the State.”

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.

TUTU & ME WILL HOST A KEIKI CHRISTMAS FUN DAY and Open House for all keiki birth to five years of age, along with their caregivers on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Pāhala Community Center.
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