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Native Hawaiian health care will receive $22 million in federal funds

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Native Hawaiian health care will receive a $22 million infusion of funding this year from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s a $1.5 million dollar increase from last year.

A majority of the funds will support Native Hawaiian health care services, disease prevention and health education at five health care systems on Hawaiʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi.

Funds will also support the system’s administrative arm Papa Ola Lokahi and its Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program.

Sarah Kamakawiwoʻole, policy director at Papa Ola Lokahi, says the organization anticipates another increase in funding under the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act come next year.

"For the last five or six years, we have either had level funding or increased funding, which to me reflects that the congressional delegation clearly understands the federal trust responsibility for Native Hawaiians – at least in how it pertains to health – and sees this as a vehicle for how to honor that," Kamakawiwoʻole said.

"Currently, the draft has the ask up for another million increase for $23 million in fiscal year 2023. Just really grateful and looking forward to how do we leverage what the congressional delegation has fought really hard for and get that down into community," she said.

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems and Papa Ola Lokahi also received an additional $20 million last August from the American Rescue Plan Act to be used over two years.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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