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COFACAN: Advocates Plan Next Steps to Defend Healthcare Access
By News Release @ 5:24 PM :: 2733 Views :: Health Care

COFACAN Statement And Call To Action On Basic Health Hawai‘i

COFA Community Advocacy Network, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 

Dear citizens of Oceania and beyond:   April 15, 2014

Brothers and sisters, we call upon your support and the wisdom of our ancestors as we navigate through difficult waters. On April 1, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court handed down its ruling on the Korab v. Fink case. This case involves the issue of whether the state can enroll citizen residents from the Compact of Free Association nations (COFA) in the medically insufficient Basic Health Hawai‘i healthcare safety net. The Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the state, removing a preliminary injunction that stopped the implementation of Basic Health Hawai‘i. The ruling therefore allows the state to limit COFA citizens to Basic Health Hawai‘i if it so chooses.

The Attorney General has promised that the state will not deny citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau equal access to healthcare in Hawai‘i until the Korab vs. Fink case is finally resolved. However, BHH remains on the books. It is unclear what will happen when the case is ultimately decided, or when a new governor is elected. We stand together in hope and prayer that the State of Hawai‘i will continue to support our COFA citizens’ healthcare as it has from the beginning. We continue to advocate for the State of Hawai‘i to remove Basic Health Hawai‘i from Hawai‘i Administrative Rules and repeal Haw. Admin. Rules Chapter 17-1722.3.

We will continue to work with all who support us to take a unified stand to hold the federal government accountable in addressing the healthcare needs of COFA taxpayers and residents of the United States. To the people of the COFA nations and our supporters, we humbly ask for your support to stand with us in our effort to persuade the state leaders to not forsake us. Let us trust that they will not forsake us. We are working closely with the leadership of the State of Hawai‘i, the U.S. Congress and with our partners throughout the nation to support a federal solution to repair the injustice of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. We believe that the State and U.S. government must act consistently with the spirit of our long relationship between the COFA nations and the United States. Historical background, summaries and factsheets on the history of this issue and the Korab vs. Fink court case can be found at our website www.healthypacific.org.

These are our goals moving forward:

  1. Request a full panel ("en banc") review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  2. Maintain current levels of Med-QUEST eligibility for our COFA citizens.
  3. Repeal HAR Chapter 17-1722.3 (Basic Health Hawai‘i) from the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR).
  4. Work in partnership with the State of Hawai‘i and our national supporters towards a federal solution to restore Medicaid benefits for COFA citizens.

Here are some important actions that we must accomplish together:

  1. Let COFA citizens know that they are still currently covered under MED-QUEST until the state of Hawai‘i decides their next steps.
  2. Ask your organization to write a public statement in support of the COFA community. Your letter can request the state of Hawai'i to repeal HAR Chapter 17-1722.3.
  3. Participate in meetings and activities to get informed and involved.
  4. Visit the www.healthypacific.org website for the latest news and info, and help spread the word about action alerts and other important announcements (use the hashtag #samecanoe on social media).

We have heard reports that COFA citizens on Med-QUEST may be receiving notices regarding changes to their health coverage. These notices may be related to a new mandatory re-enrollment period that affects every Med-QUEST recipient. This new enrollment period is in effect from April to October. The letters for this re-enrollment should not be confused with the Basic Health Hawai‘i Plan. Please contact your local community health center, case worker or DHS office if you need help filling out this form, and know that you have the right to an interpreter or translator by law. Ask if you don't understand!

Basic Health Hawai‘i is not yet in effect; however, if anyone receives any official documents regarding this plan we urge these citizens to e-mail us at restoringjusticehi@gmail.com so that we can investigate and follow up on these reports. Please continue to check the website www.healthypacific.org for updates and answers to questions that have been submitted. This canoe is ours to paddle, together. As islanders, we appreciate and welcome the generous support of our hosts and partners in Hawai‘i who would join us in this struggle to maintain our common humanity.

---30---

Related: AG: Hawaii Will Continue to Provide COFA Benefits

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