HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige signed a bill Thursday that's aimed at assuring elderly couples will be able to stay together in community care homes.
The law allows more than one non-Medicaid patient to stay at the care homes.
In recent years, a number of elderly couples have had to be split apart because of rules requiring no more than one private pay resident per home.
Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto, married for 69 years, were one such couple separated because they were both non-Medicaid patients.
"The bill Gov. Ige will be signing strikes an excellent balance," state Rep. John Mizuno said.
He added that it's "legally sound and will ensure private pay married couples and civil union couples could reside in the same Medicaid home without losing federal Medicaid funding."
Mizuno fought for the Kawamotos and other elderly couples in the same situation.
"I am elated for the Kawamoto couple and their family," Mizuno said. "I always felt that a state regulation should not deny a couple married for 69 years, nor any married couple, the right to live with each other."
"This is a bill with faces. It's a bill that displays a beautiful love story."
Community caregivers, patients and advocates attended the signing at Hawaii State Capitol on Thursday afternoon.