State briefs for August 21

Maui expecting list of illegal vacation rentals

WAILUKU, Maui — Officials in Maui County are expecting better results on cracking down on illegal vacation rentals with the help of a Colorado-based company hired to root out noncompliant properties.

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The county Planning Department expects to receive the first list of potentially illegal operators by the end of the month from LODGINGRevs, the company hired earlier this year.

The department usually found illegal short-term rentals through online advertisements, but operators sometimes used workarounds to hide the properties from regulators, said Planning Director Michele McLean.

Rental operators found in violation will first be issued a warning, giving them seven days to shut down. The cases are closed if officials cannot find evidence of continuing operations.

If evidence is found, violation notices will be sent, leading to a $1,000 initial fine and $1,000 for every day of violation, McLean said.

The company can find the properties by extracting data from photographs and can overcome issues the department faced such as ads that blocked Hawaii IP addresses, McLean said.

Officials are “expecting to get a couple thousand identified properties” when the county receives the first list.

State missed out on federal reimbursements

HONOLULU — Hawaii potentially missed out on tens of millions of dollars in federal reimbursements from claims related to teaching Medicaid-insured special education students, according to state officials and a review of federal data.

A review of federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data shows the state received nearly $260,000 for school-based Medicaid health services in 2016, a fraction of what most states get.

On average, states received $48 million in 2016, the latest year with state-by-state federal statistics available. In states with similar overall student populations — such as Rhode Island, Montana, Maine and New Hampshire — each received between $26 million and $38 million in reimbursements, according to the data.

State Rep. Sylvia Luke, a Democrat who leads the House Finance Committee, said she thinks Hawaii has missed out on about $50 million to $100 million annually for years.

State Department of Education officials declined to comment, saying doing so would be speculation. The reimbursement differences between the states reflect the complexity and difficulty of the Medicaid program, the department said.

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The DOE is taking aggressive steps to maximize reimbursements under Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who entered the role a year ago, said Heidi Armstrong, interim assistant superintendent of the department’s Office of Student Support Services.

The state receives federal reimbursements for qualifying expenses by submitting billing records and ensuring federal requirements are met. The department is spending about $367 million on special education this year.

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