Sen. Mazie K. Hirono met with the Kūpuna 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 in early October 2022.
During the roundtable, Sen. Hirono discussed issues including food security, senior care workforce shortages and the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will lower healthcare costs for the nearly 280,000 seniors in Hawai‘i who get their healthcare through Medicare.
“The Kūpuna Collective came together at the start of the pandemic to meet the needs of our kūpuna in Hawai‘i who weren’t able to take advantage of mass food distributions and vaccine initiatives,” said Sen. Hirono. “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. 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 Kūpuna 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 healthcare and prescription drugs, and making sure seniors on Medicare can get the vaccines they need free of cost, thanks to a provision I authored.”
The discussion included En Young, executive director at Pacific Gateway Center; Derrick Ariyoshi, executive for the Elderly Affairs Division with the City and County of Honolulu; Lindsey Ilagan, Hawaii Public Health Institute Kūpuna Program manager and co-convener of the Kūpuna Collective; Christy Nishita, interim director of the UH at Mānoa Center on Aging and co-coordinator of the Kūpuna Collective; Michelle Cordero-Lee, Lanakila Pacific Meals on Wheels Program CEO; and Kathy Wyatt, Hale Hauoli Adult Day Care owner and director.