HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige signed two bills into law on Friday that protect Hawaii caregivers, as well as those receiving care.
The first, House Bill 1906 makes intentionally hurting certain healthcare workers a class C felony, invoking the same level of punishment one would receive for assaulting a police officer or EMS worker.
"Police, teachers, EMS workers and Firefighters are already covered by this law, so we felt it was justified to make it a felony to assault our nurses and healthcare workers who may place their life in harm's way to save lives," said Rep. John Mizuno, in a statement.
The second healthcare-related law, House Bill 1911 requires healthcare facilities to be licensed by the Department of Health, and authorizes DOH officials to investigate unlicensed facilities.
DOH officials submitted testimony in opposition to the bill back in March, citing issues with several of the its measures including the establishment a home care aide registry, and an online forum where certain licensed residential care homes can post vacancies.
"An online forum for this purpose amounts to advertising for private patients to occupy private beds in a private residential care home for a private fee," the statement reads," "This is a private function better left to the private industry, and should not be a 13 government function."
Unlicensed care homes have made millions of dollars in Hawaii by operating without paying taxes, insurance or requiring background checks. The unlicensed facilities have seen a boon in recent years, with several opening up across the islands.
Violators of the bill could face fines of up to $100 per day and misdemeanor charges by knowingly referring or transferring patients to uncertified or unlicensed care facilities.
"HB1911 is the strongest consumer protection bill we passed into law this year," Mizuno said in a statement, "The current unlicensed and uncertified care homes can have a murderer or rapist operate their care home, there is no regulatory oversight, no safety inspections, they can basically do whatever they want," Mizuno said.
"Today was a great day for policy on healthcare," Mizuno said.