From the State Capitol: Legislature passes JABSOM support bill, signed into law by Governor Abercrombie

The Hawai’i State Senate, the House of Representatives and Governor Neil Abercrombie have approved legislation which allows the University of Hawai’i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to continue using Hawai’i Tobacco Settlement Special Fund monies to fund some of its operational expenses.

The proposal, formerly Senate Bill 239, was signed into law on February 13, 2012. Lawmakers said the measure supports the school’s mission of training physicians for our state.

Legislative support and “fast-track” 

“This bill allows us to extend the authority for JABSOM to use the Hawai’i Tobacco Settlement Fund. This will allow us to grow our own doctors and increase our healthcare providers and address the doctor shortage,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda, Senate Education Chair. Tokuda and her colleagues worked to “fast track” the measure in the current session after SB 239 was largely agreed to, but left on the negotiating table at the end of the 2011 session.

“JABSOM is the lifeline for physician providers, so without this bill our healthcare could worsen. We need to show one hundred percent support for our medical school,” said Sen. Josh Green, M.D., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health.  Another of the measure’s champions was House Health Chairman Rep. Ryan Yamane.

“JABSOM is a critically important component of Hawai’i’s health community,” said Rep. Yamane.  “Even during this challenging economic period, we will continue to work with the medical school to help ensure that their operations are adequately funded.”

Dean: Advancing JABSOM sustainabity plan

JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, MD said the measure assists a funding sustainability plan taking shape at the school.

“Act 002 (12) provides necessary resources and time for the school’s replacement funding initiatives, recently implemented, to yield new financial support resources,” said Dean Hedges, who thanked the lawmakers and Governor’s team for their dedication to health care.

“The medical school will continue to focus on reducing the catastrophic affects of a future physician workforce shortage here in Hawai’i by seeking out the best candidates for medical school, including those who are from underserved communities,” said Dr. Hedges. “As we approach the 50th anniversary of JABSOM’s founding in 2015, we are proud that we have trained nearly half of the physicians serving our Islands today”.

Dr. Hedges noted that in addition to training physicians, the UH medical school also provides advanced education to biomedical scientists, public health experts and officals, communication sciences therapists, and medical technologists.”

History of JABSOM and the Master Settlement Agreement

Opened in 2005, JABSOM’s $150 million dollar Kaka’ako complex includes a high-tech robotic-patient simulation laboratory (the Sim Tiki Center) and a Center for Clinical Skills with a suite of patient examination rooms, each outfitted with embedded cameras and microphones to allow for visual replay of learning scenarios. The school also features classrooms, a suite of tutorial rooms for our students’ problem-based learning sessions, a 150-seat auditorium, a health sciences library, an access grid teleconference room, a public cafeteria and a research building filled with laboratories and the most modern health sciences equipment. Recognizing the severe need for physicians to treat the consequences of smoking for current residents and generations to come, the Hawai’i State Legislature assigned state monies from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to build and help support the medical school.

Lawmaker’s quotes are courtesy the Hawai’i State Legislature. Our photograph shows JABSOM students arriving at the legislature last year to explain how Senate Bill 239 would help their education.

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