Office of the Governor – News Release – Gov. Green Signs Bills to Increase Access to Health Care and Wellness

Posted on Jun 22, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom, Office of the Governor Press Releases

KAILUA-KONA, HI – Governor Josh Green, M.D., signed 13 bills at a ceremony at Kealakehe Clinic in the Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center, to support various aspects of health care that will allow for improved access and services for the community.

“Today’s bill signing will further our Administration’s priorities of ensuring quality health care access for the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Governor Green. “Access to health care shouldn’t be a ‘want to have,’ but a ‘need to have,’ and we will continue to work toward finding those solutions that increase access, especially in our rural communities.”

SB404 Updates the Hospital Sustainability Program to clarify the use of the Hospital Sustainability Program Special Fund to support a hospital’s ability to continue to provide services to Medicaid recipients. The bill makes these programs permanent with passage, rather than allowing the program to sunset at the end of December 2023.

SB671 Excludes fentanyl testing strips from the definition of drug paraphernalia in the uniform Controlled Substance Act and defines a fentanyl test strip.

“As a state, we need to be compassionate and focus on harm reduction,” said Governor Green of SB671. “It is important to legalize fentanyl test strips, because fentanyl is 80 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s being laced into other drugs and people are dying. If we can save lives, we should.”

SB674 Allows Hawaiʻi to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (already in effect in 37 other states, the District of Columbia, and Guam) to allow physicians to more easily practice in Hawaiʻi, while still meeting nationally established standards for education and training.

“Our state continues to experience a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially in our rural communities. This bill will help ensure adequate care and health care access for all, not just some,” said Governor Green.

“Coming from a rural district on Hawaiʻi Island  ̶  one of three Oʻahu sized districts  ̶  health care access is critical to the wellbeing of our residents,” said Representative Mark M. Nakashima (D-1, Hāmākua, portion of Hilo, Ka‘ūmana). “When the only option is to travel to Oʻahu to see a doctor, it can be overwhelming and financially burdensome. I’m pleased with the expansion of telemedicine and the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and health care professionals, which aims to safely increase available healthcare services to neighbor island residents,” he said.

HB907 HD2 SD2 temporarily allows for the reimbursement of services provided through telehealth via an interactive telecommunications system and two-way, real-time, audio-only communications in certain circumstances. Defines “interactive telecommunications system.” The bill sunsets Dec. 31, 2025.

Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center CEO Richard Taaffe expressed gratitude to the Governor on behalf of the health centers across Hawaiʻi for signing HB 907 into law.

“HB 907 represents a huge step forward in our effort to extend access to behavior health services to our rural and vulnerable communities, especially here on the Big Island,” he said. “The new law will allow our behavioral practitioners to use audio-only technology to reach patients struggling with isolation, anxiety, depression, addiction and who would not otherwise seek care. Governor Green, by signing this bill into law, gives us another method for reaching patients in their homes, where they live.”

Additional bills signed by Governor Green on June 22, 2023 included (click on links for details):

SB162 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Dentistry 

SB473 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to the Practice of Pharmacy 

SB599 SD1 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers

SB602 SD2 HD1 CD1, Relating to Health Care Providers

SB759 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Health Community Efforts

HB660 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to the Issuance of Special Purpose Revenue Bonds

HB884 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Traveling Team Physicians 

HB1082 HD3 SD2 CD1, Relating to Medical Cannabis

HB1369 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Nursing Facilities

Photos and video from today’s bill signing event can be credited to Office of the Governor.

The presentation slides Governor Green used are attached and also can be credited to Office of the Governor.

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Media Contacts:    

Erika Engle  

Press Secretary  

Office of the Governor, State of Hawai‘i  

Ofc: (808) 586-0120 

Email: [email protected] 


Makana McClellan    

Director of Communications    

Office of the Governor, State of Hawaiʻi   

Cell: (808) 265-0083    

Email: [email protected]