If the immigration reform bill passes in its current form, these residents would once again have the equal access to Medicaid that may be essential for certain individuals -- particularly for the chronically ill -- to receive proactive treatment in a timely and affordable manner.
According to sources familiar with the mark-up proceedings, Senators Leahy and Schumer "spoke in favor of the [COFA] amendment -- that it is 'fair,' 'non-controversial,' and 'not going to break the bank." No significant objection was voiced from any other Senators on the Judiciary Committee, from either political party.
Earlier this year, the Hawai'i State Legislature passed several resolutions urging the restoration of Medicaid and other federal benefits for U.S. residents present under COFA. Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Congressional delegates from Hawai'i, have both introduced measures to their respective legislative bodies, that would carry out these resolutions for Medicaid benefits specifically.
Congresswoman Hanabusa's measure, HR912, is currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, with a referral to the Subcommittee on Health.
Much kudos to the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Medical Legal Partnership for Children at Kokua Kalihi Valley, the Hawai'i Coalition for Immigration Reform, the Hawai'i State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the COFA Community Advocacy Network, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, the Micronesian Health Advisory Coalition, The Pacific Islander Access Project, and the Micronesian Islander Community for their advocacy on the federal level. Without the effort of groups such as these, it is unlikely that we would have come this far.
In addition, much thanks to all those groups and individuals who have voiced their support and taken action for the restoration of these benefits. Every supporter brings us one step closer to health justice for our Pacific Islander friends and allies!
While this is a victorious step forward, much more work remains to be done. Please visit our Take Action page for updates on what you can do to get involved, or contact us for more ideas on how you can join this cause!