Hawaii Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case are co-sponsoring a bill to restore Medicaid eligibility for tens of thousands of Pacific Islander migrants who live and work legally in the U.S.
Citizens of three Pacific nations — Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia — live in the U.S. under strategic agreements known as the Compacts of Free Association that give the U.S. military control over their nations’ surrounding airspace and waters. But many have struggled to access health care since their eligibility for Medicaid was stripped by the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.
Kathy Ko Chin, president and chief executive officer of the advocacy group Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, said in a press release the bill would correct “a nearly 25-year error.”
“COFA communities have contributed to our nation’s security, pay taxes and play a role in driving our economy, but they are not eligible for many of the programs that their tax dollars support,” she said.
The bill, called the Covering Our FAS Allies Act (COFA Act), was co-sponsored by Reps. Tony Cárdenas, a Democrat from California; Amata Coleman Radewagen, a Republican from American Samoa; Steve Womack, a Republican from Arkansas; and Gregorio Sablan, a Democrat from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The proposal is a companion to Senate Bill 2218 introduced in July by Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
We need your help . . .
Our small newsroom believes wholeheartedly that news and information is a public service – not something to be hidden behind paywalls or diluted by ads. Your donations ensure that our reporting remains free and accessible to all communities, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. For a limited time become a Civil Beat donor and we’ll throw in a limited-editionCivil Beat t-shirt!