POSTED: 12:35 p.m. HST, Dec 13, 2010
A federal judge is ordering Hawaii's government to restore health benefits to low-income legal migrants from Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said in court Monday he will quickly issue a preliminary injunction requiring that more than 7,500 Pacific Islanders receive health coverage equivalent to plans provided to Medicaid recipients.
The state aimed to save about $8 million by offering fewer benefits than Medicaid programs under a free plan called Basic Health Hawaii, but Seabright's ruling will end that effort.
Migrants' attorney Paul Alston said the state of Hawaii must provide equal health coverage to the poor regardless of where they come from.
State lawyers said they may appeal.