Friday, December 06, 2019
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, September 20, 2012
9th Circuit Hears Abercrombie Appeal Against Micronesians
By Selected News Articles @ 3:02 PM :: 4230 Views :: Energy, Environment

9th Circuit Hears Health Care Plea From Islanders

by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service

(CN) - An attorney for the the disease-prone residents of Pacific island nations where the United States once tested nuclear bombs decried discrimination before the 9th Circuit.

Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau each were used by the U.S. military to test its developing nuclear arsenal in the 1940s and 1950s. Many residents claim that resulting health issues have lingered through the generations.

These countries have enjoyed a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States since 1986, a relationship that allows their natives to live in Hawaii and other states as nonimmigrants, eligible for government assistance, including Medicaid.

In 1996, however, the Welfare Reform Act cut off Medicaid benefits for the islanders. States had the option to keep providing health care under their own programs, but Hawaii stopped giving COFA residents the benefits to which they were previously entitled in 2010.

That year marked the start of the Basic Health Hawaii (BHH) program, to which it switched most of the COFA residents. The move cut the care provided to the islanders quite severely, limiting patients to no more than 10 days of hospital care per year, 12 outpatient visits per year, six mental health visits and a maximum of four medication prescriptions per month.

A group of islanders, many of whom have persistent and serious health conditions, filed a class action against the state, alleging that the cut in benefits violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Finding that Hawaii had "failed to identify any particular state interest that is advanced by their decision to exclude COFA Residents from the old programs," U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright granted an injunction and ordered Hawaii to reinstate the former benefits.

Hawaii appealed to the 9th Circuit, a three-judge panel of which heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday in San Francisco.

Judge Richard Clifton tried to focus the argument for Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Lee Anne N.M. Brewer.

"You are willing to pay Medicaid for a citizen; you are not willing pay Medicaid for a noncitizen from the Marshall Islands," Clifton said. "Why doesn't that present a vulnerability to exactly the same argument we have here in that you are discriminating against these aliens?"

Brewer countered that the equal-protection clause forces the state to fund aliens in the same way.

"The discrimination, if there is any, is by the federal government," Brewer said. "The federal government makes the classification based on alienage, which it is definitely empowered to do."

Hawaii complied with the federal requirements of welfare reform and was not required to continue offering Medicaid-level benefits to the islanders, she continued.

"They are not discriminating against anyone, they are merely complying with the federal directive," Brewer said.

Paul Alston, an attorney for the islanders, disagreed. He contended that the 9th Circuit had previously found that welfare reform "reflects no uniform federal policy."

"The state has in fact targeted not all aliens, but narrowly tailored groups of aliens from the COFA countries," Alston said. "At that point the question becomes, can the state discriminate based simply on the existence of a federal subsidy, against certain aliens who the federal government has said they may cover?"

The case is simply "a situation where the state could extend benefits to a variety of different groups; the state of Hawaii has chosen to extend benefits to a wide range of aliens, but has singled out people from the COFA countries, the disfavored countries," he said.

"Hawaii has isolated a particular subgroup of a people that it has discretion to serve."

---30---

Related:

Nov 2, 2010: Abercrombie admits responsibility for costing Hawaii millions under Compact of Free Association

Micronesians: “Its just better in Arkansas”

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT