Hawaii Was Creating A Plan For Universal Health Care. It’s Time To Return To It

In 2009 Hawaii passed a law to create the Hawaii Health Authority, or HHA, and charged the group with designing a universal health care system that would cover all residents of the islands.

The HHA evoked the fundamental questions at the core of health care in the United States today. Should health care be a commodity, sold by corporations to those with the ability to pay? Or should it be a public good that is assured for all, similar to roads, schools, national parks and national security?

I was an original member of the HHA, appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The HHA met regularly from 2011 until April 2013 but at that point the Abercrombie administration pivoted away from the HHA and toward the federal government’s Affordable Care Act.

The ACA was largely written by the insurance industry in order to cement the industry’s central role in health care. At the heart of the ACA was a move to expand coverage by getting greater numbers of people on competing private healthcare plans.

So, what has happened to health care in Hawaii under the ACA?