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Legislation could reinstate Medicaid for COFA migrants

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Hawaii’s Congressional delegation wants to reinstate Medicaid eligibility for migrants who are in the U.S. under the Compact of Free Association.

The U.S. senators and representatives from Hawaii announced Tuesday that they introduced legislation to make the change.

For the past two decades, migrants from Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands have been ineligible for federal Medicaid dollars. Hawaii had been spending around $30 million every year for their health care costs. But the state has ended coverage for most migrants and has instead enrolled families in insurance plans through the Hawaii Health Connector.

Sen. Brian Schatz says providing health care to compact migrants is a moral obligation. He says the state and federal government should share the cost.

COFA migrants had access to Medicaid before 1996.

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