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Senate group restores Medicaid for Micronesian migrants

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:35 a.m. HST, May 15, 2013

The latest version of the U.S. Senate immigration reform bill restores Medicaid eligibility to migrants from three Pacific island nations in Micronesia.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to reinstate eligibility by adopting an amendment from U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. The Democrat from Hawaii says the move will save the state millions of dollars each year.

Citizens of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have the right to live and work in the U.S. under international treaties.

In exchange, the U.S. military controls extensive strategic land and water in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and China. That includes Kwajalein Atoll, the site of missile testing and space activities.

But the international agreements have caused tension between the U.S. federal government and state and territorial governments over who should pay for providing services to migrants.

In 1996, Congress revoked migrants' eligibility for Medicaid, the federal health program for low-income people. The move shifted the financial burden for health care to states and territories.

Residents of Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands have felt the greatest fiscal impact. Between 2004 and 2010, all three reported spending more than $1 billion to provide services for the migrants, mainly for education and health care. That doesn't take into account the contributions migrants have made through taxes and labor.

The federal government spent more than $200 million during the same time period to compensate the local governments. But state and territorial leaders have said the money is far from enough.

In Hawaii, public outcry against the rising health care costs caused the state Legislature to significantly cut health care benefits for the community three years ago. A federal judge struck down the move as discriminatory.

Advocates for providing health care to migrants have said the U.S. has a moral imperative to do so because of the negative health effects of U.S. nuclear testing in the Pacific. Critics have countered that the cost is too high.

More than 50,000 people — almost a fourth of the population of all three nations — have already moved to the U.S. They have settled in various states including California, Oregon and Arkansas.

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AJSay wrote:
Here is a case where Hawaii always pays for the mistakes of the Federal Government. Why don't they offer them housing in the Continental US too so that the other states can share in the burden.
on May 15,2013 | 05:34AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The government would rather have them out of sight, out of mind, and located far away from the continent, and on the most isolated islands in the world..... Hawai'i.
on May 15,2013 | 03:19PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Why not re-look at the Compact instead? It'll save more than 40 mil.
on May 15,2013 | 05:43AM
Lanikaula wrote:
Whilst this is the FEDS kuleana, it's obviously had a major impact on Hawai'i! Hospitals have closed, there's shortages of doctors and nurses and homecare costs are crazy. What WE in Hawaii are experiencing is as residents and more importantly as the HOST culture is that OUR kupuna who need the services that were setup by OUR ali'i Trust, in particular Queen's Hospital, is THEY, OUR kupuna are being sent to other facilites then placed in overcrowded "waiting" areas sometimes hours on end! Queen's Hospital was PAID for by OUR kupuna as a Trust for Kanaka because of the need for health care from all of the INTRODUCED diseases brought in by immigrant cultures brought here for labor! It's like 'second hand smoke'...we didn't anything to deserve this second hand treatment! Send the 'latest' immigrants, irregardless of their relationships with america to THOSE facilities and give the due to HOST culture's needs FIRST!! It's the FEDS obligation NOT OURS. Try see if you can go another country and get this kind treatment over the 'native' peoples there. if you don't have the kala, $$$, you may have a rude awakening. E malama i na kupuna o Hawaii Nei FIRST!
on May 15,2013 | 05:58AM
Leinanij wrote:
Wow, so many misstatements, where to start. St. Francis didn’t close because of Micronesians. The shortage of doctors (not nurses as we have quite an abundance of them that they are having a hard time finding jobs) and “crazy” homecare costs are not because of Micronesians. My family was treated at Queen’s, even those that didn’t have insurance, so not sure what that’s about. I heard that because of St. Francis West closing, Queen’s is at capacity but again, that’s not because of Micronsians. I do know that the sailors who arrived with Captain Cook and others brought the diseases that decimated the Hawaiian population. Ka Mo’i Kalakaua visited Japan in 1881, on his trip around the world, and appealed to the Emperor to send immigrants to Hawaii to relieve the shortage of laborers on the sugar plantations. Our ancestors said: O ke aloha ke kuleana o kahi malihini. It is our kuleana to offer aloha to foreigners. So I think kupuna today would find your comments rude and ignorant.
on May 15,2013 | 08:39AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Jeez! You're kidding, right? You're blaming Captain Cook? YOu sound like the PResident blaming Bush for everything under the sun. Stand-up on your own two feet, and get a job.
on May 15,2013 | 10:44AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The European Plague, brought to Hawai'i by Capt. Cook, Feb. 1778. Maybe inadvertently, and he didn't know,..... Capt. Cook didn't care.
on May 15,2013 | 02:54PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The European's and the American's greatest weapons to conquer the world .. Firepower.. and .. Germ Warfare.
on May 15,2013 | 03:29PM
mijlive wrote:
where was lazy maizie,dan,et al before?
on May 15,2013 | 06:51AM
OldDiver wrote:
Maize is working hard for the people of Hawaii. The lazy Maize message was retired when the do nothing governor lost in November.
on May 15,2013 | 08:38AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
It is unacceptable for Hawaii to bear the burden of a federal handout.
on May 15,2013 | 07:05AM
hanoz808 wrote:
Why don't they have the live on the mainland? It's not Hawaii's fault, but we are being burdened
on May 15,2013 | 08:08AM
redneckMT wrote:
on May 15,2013 | 08:40AM
FluidMotion wrote:
It would be cheaper to just build a nice hospital on their island.
on May 15,2013 | 09:13AM
MKN wrote:
You would think that the federal government would think of this solution right? LOL! I guess not. The US should just ditch the compact in my opinion. We don't really need Micronesians here. There's no value added since they're not citizens. If anything, their presence takes away resources from regular US Citizens through welfare, affordable housing, and unsubsidized medical care which cost hospitals millions of dollars each year.
on May 15,2013 | 11:05AM
Leinanij wrote:
You two are so ignorant, it pains me to think that you live here in Hawai’i. The entire Marshall Islands archipelago was contaminated with fallout from U.S. nuclear tests, and these people continue to suffer - from dislocation from their contaminated homelands, widespread cancers, and multi-generational birth defects. Yes, lets send them all home to die so that Americans don’t have to admit that their government ever did anything bad to them and don't have to "share" their welfare.
on May 15,2013 | 02:13PM
Lanikaula wrote:
EH! If weʻre ignorant U definitely are ARROGANT! U know the truth yet you turn your head away from the truth of our statements. Thereʻs none of YOUR implications intended here LeinaniJ! U donʻt think we know the history...seems u MISREAD comments here. This situation is AMERICAʻS kuleana NOT HAWAIʻIʻS. THE solution is that america should REBUILD THEIR country to include EVERY need since it was THEY who bombed the ʻshirtʻ out of their country! hoʻi no kau ʻolelo ino me ʻoe!
on May 20,2013 | 07:24AM
ryan02 wrote:
"That doesn't take into account the contributions migrants have made through taxes and labor" Thanks, I needed a laugh today.
on May 15,2013 | 09:44AM
AirRescueFF wrote:
If memory serves, Hawaii's cost in 2009 was $115M. The compensation from the federal government was something like a tenth of that.
on May 15,2013 | 11:07AM
Anonymous wrote:
They are a cancer to Hawaii. Round them up and Gas them all.
on May 15,2013 | 12:27PM
Leinanij wrote:
You should be ashamed of yourself. I hope you feel comfortable in your anonymity because I bet there are some Jewish people who'd like to see you gassed.
on May 15,2013 | 02:04PM
MightyMakiki wrote:
I watched her testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on "Immigration Reform". (She did good) It was only an amendment to the Big Bill. (300 plus amendments). That's good and fine, but I really think the whole reform bill will fail on both counts. The Senate and, of course, the House. No Chance Brah...
on May 15,2013 | 12:34PM
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