Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    S.B. No. 1294




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Twenty-Ninth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2017

State of Hawaii




     Your Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Higher Education, to which was referred S.B. No. 1294 entitled:




beg leave to report as follows:


     The purpose and intent of this measure is to develop an undergraduate health sciences academy within the University of Hawaii System, in cooperation with relevant educational institutions, to target the recruitment and retention of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students and first generation college attendees.


     Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the University of Hawaii System; Department of Human Services; UH West Oahu Allied Health Faculty; Native Hawaiian Health Task Force; Kamehameha Schools; and numerous individuals.


     Your Committees find that multiple studies testing for factors leading to retention have identified that the more Native Hawaiian students are involved in school activities and the more interaction they have with faculty and their peers, the more likely they are to persevere and succeed in their higher education.


     Your Committees further find that health care sector employment is projected to increase by more than one hundred sixty percent by 2040, and the wages in that sector are typically more consistent with a livable wage in Hawaii.  These jobs typically require a bachelor's degree at minimum.  Currently only about fifteen percent of Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders hold bachelor's degrees.


     Senate Resolution No. 60, S.D. 1, Regular Session of 2014, created the Native Hawaiian health task force to improve the health of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.  The goal of the task force is to articulate priorities to advance health care equity for Native Hawaiians which would in turn improve health care for all people of Hawaii.  The findings for establishment of a framework were widely discussed and embraced by government agencies, community members, and affected stakeholders.  The work of the task force recognized past efforts to improve the health of Native Hawaiians.  The task force used nā pou kihi as the cultural framework to organize its findings and recommendations.  This measure is an outcome of the recommendations of the task force.


     Your Committees further find that establishment of a health sciences academy with a focus on Native Hawaiian student retention would promote integration of students into the academic college milieu.  This measure reflects the position of the Senate on Native Hawaiian health care, which is to support:


     (1)  Collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues;


     (2)  Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst the State's indigenous population;


     (3)  Options to improve health care for keiki and residents in rural areas; and


     (4)  Collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout the State's communities.


     As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Higher Education that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 1294 and recommend that it pass Second Reading and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Higher Education,