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Hirono attends discussion on kupuna issues

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) recently met with the Kupuna Collective, a network of support organizations that focus on maximizing the health, independence and engagement of Hawai‘i’s older adults, for a roundtable conversation about supporting seniors in Hawai‘i.

During the roundtable, Hirono discussed issues including food security, senior care workforce shortages, and the recently assed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will lower health-care costs for the nearly 280,000 seniors in Hawai‘i who get their health care through Medicare.

“The Kupuna Collective came together at the start of the pandemic to meet the needs of our kupuna in Hawai‘i who weren’t able to take advantage of mass food distributions and vaccine initiatives,” Hirono said in a press release.

”The collective was able to identify gaps in services and respond quickly by leveraging resources and justifying their needs to donors through careful data collection and analysis,” said Hirono.

“When seniors across our state were struggling to afford food, this group came together to help make sure they had enough to eat, and it has continued working to support our seniors with access to vaccines, daily meals to meet their medical needs, digital resources and more. Our community owes the Kupuna Collective a debt of gratitude.

“With the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, we’re also meeting the needs of our seniors by lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and making sure seniors on Medicare can get the vaccines they need free of cost, thanks to a provision I authored.”

Roundtable participants included Derrick Ariyoshi, county executive for the Elderly Affairs Division with the City and County of Honolulu; Lindsey Ilagan, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute Kupuna Program manager and co-convener of the Kupuna Collective; Christy Nishita, director of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Thompson School of Social Work Center on Aging and co-convener of the Kupuna Collective; Michelle Cordero-Lee, Lanakila Pacific Meals on Wheels Program CEO; and Kathy Wyatt, Hale Hauoli Adult Day Care owner and director.

Earlier this year, Hirono helped pass the IRA, which will lower health care costs for more than 280,000 seniors in Hawai‘i who get their health care through Medicare by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs and capping seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year.

In July, she also reintroduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, legislation that would strengthen Social Security’s financial state and ensure that seniors continue to benefit from the programs they have paid into throughout their lives.