See the Attorney Generalʻs press release here, or download a .pdf version by clicking here.
While this news comes as temporary relief for many COFA citizens who suffer from chronic illnesses requiring a much greater degree of healthcare than that afforded by Basic Health Hawaiʻi, others have noted that underlying concerns continue to remain unaddressed.
"Basic Health Hawaiʻi is still on the books," said Joakim "Jojo" Peter, a community leader and organizer who has sought to restore federal funding for COFA citizensʻ healthcare through Medicaid. "While this governor has pledged his support and commitment to treating COFA citizens as equal human beings in terms of our healthcare safety net, it is an election year, and it could be less than a year before we have a new governor that has a different idea of how to treat our U.S. resident taxpayers, workers, students and family members, who just happen to be from the former U.S. trust territories now known as the COFA nations."
Despite petitions and other requests from community groups and supporters last year, Governor Abercrombie refused to drop the stateʻs appeal of the injunction against Basic Health Hawaiʻi, citing philosophical concerns with the district court's ruling, while at the same time assuring the COFA community that their sick and indigent family members would not be discriminated against under his administration. Insofar as the governor has received some legal vindication of his philosophical concerns, community activists and leaders would prefer greater assurances than the promises made in the Attorney General's press release.
"The governor got what he said he wanted," said Innocenta Sound-Kikku, community organizer and social worker at Kōkua Kalihi Valley. "He said he wanted to appeal based on legal principles, and that he did not view our people's right to healthcare as any less than that of any other human being. Now that he has a published Ninth Circuit opinion opening the door for states to discriminate against immigrants in access to healthcare, it is time for him to stand by his word and take Basic Health Hawaiʻi off the books."
"We are continuing our years of work to uphold the federal government's ongoing responsibility to COFA citizens, and we will soon issue a statement of unity that any COFA community group may sign on to," said Peter. "In the meantime, we respectfully request that the state and any others who are interested in our quest for justice to continue supporting ourselves and our families, as we seek a federal solution to provide for the healthcare needs of COFA citizens who reside in the U.S."