Excerpts from the article may be found below:
"About 7,500 Micronesians and other Pacific islanders will lose their Medicaid health coverage on Feb. 28, but they will automatically be enrolled in an Obamacare replacement plan March 1, health officials said.
'Our goal was that nobody who needed medical coverage would even have a one-day gap in their coverage,' said Jeff Kissel, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector.
Kissel is urging the migrants to go through the enrollment process because they have 60 days to decide which insurer they want. If they miss the chance, they will have to wait a year to enroll in a different plan.
Micronesians are allowed to live and work in the U.S. under the Compact of Free Association. The COFA contract was initiated in exchange for U.S. military rights, and to compensate islanders for the negative health and social impacts of nuclear testing after World War II.
Acknowledging the confusion and rush to sign everyone up, Kissel said there have been so many recent rulings on immigration and health care on the federal and state levels that it is 'impossible to give a lot of people on the ground the whole picture in such a short amount of time. … This is not an easy adjustment to make.'
Even though she has a job, she and her husband have diabetes and heart problems that need daily treatment.
Defang said she didn't understand the letter she received from Medicaid about switching to Obamacare, but after her friend 'rushed to come here' to sign up, she did, too. Though she learned English in high school, 'most of the Chuukese don't know English,' she said, nodding at a dozen other migrants in the room.
Joakim 'JoJo' Peter, a Micronesian and head of the COFA Community Action Network, was there to sign people up and help translate. He said there has been a lot of confusion in getting the message out to migrants with so many 'ins and outs' in health care policy.
'This is something new — to move 7,500 people from Medicaid to Obamacare,' Peter said. 'Of course, it takes a lot of momentum to get people to sign up, especially if the notification is written in English. It's hard to understand.'"
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