DHS director warns lawmakers against staffing cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

DHS director warns lawmakers against staffing cuts

State Department of Human Services director Pat McManaman at budget hearing Tuesday. State Department of Human Services director Pat McManaman at budget hearing Tuesday.
David Mason David Mason
Dr. David Derauf Dr. David Derauf
Sen. Sam Slom Sen. Sam Slom

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Kokua Kalihi Valley health center, David Mason got an emergency root canal, even though he has no medical or dental insurance.

"That helps a lot with people like us who can't afford it," he said.

Eighty percent of the clinic's clients are uninsured or on Med-QUEST. The center is one of dozens of providers impacted by funding cuts and cutbacks at the State Department of Human Services.

"We don't get fearful about it but it becomes highly inefficient when you're scrambling to make up for those shortfalls. And you can't plan for tomorrow," clinic executive director Dr. David Derauf said.

"Hawaii has a long and rich tradition of providing needed medical care for all of its residents," interim DHS director Pat McManaman said.

She told a Senate money committee Tuesday she needs $2.3 billion in 2012 and $2.4 billion in 2013 to fund a basic budget, plus emergency money that tops $100 million.

One senator said government is broke.

"Every department says exactly the same thing: don't cut our budget, don't reduce our personnel, we have staff shortages," Sen. Sam Slom said. "Certainly it is a problem. But it is a problem in our community to the private sector who has to pay for all of this."

Manpower shortages and slashed funding at DHS rippled through organizations that help needy people.

Some delayed or discontinued services

McManaman said that has to stop.

"I'm sure you're hearing it from all the departments. But the message is if the positions are deleted it will take us years to rebuild," she said.

Kokua Kalihi Valley gets money from federal sources, grants, and state agencies including DHS.

"There isn't an unlimited supply of money out there. We all know that," Derauf said. "How we spend that money and how we spend it wisely going forward is incredibly critical."

It's critical for clinics like Kokua Kalihi Valley, that's anxiously waiting to see how much help the state can afford.

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