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Lawsuit in offing over limits to critical care

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, Aug. 12, 2010) - Micronesian groups in Hawaii are joining forces in a fundraising effort to secure legal representation to fight the State's new Basic Health Hawaii plan (BHH).

[PIR editor’s note: Five Micronesian organizations have joined collectively in the effort to address, fundraise, and promote awareness on the BHH. The Micronesian Health Advisory Coalition, Micronesians United, Micronesians United Big Island, Micronesian Community Network, and Pa Emman Kabjere have contracted the Lawyers for Equal Justice (LEJ) to represent the Micronesian coalition.]

According to the newly formed Micronesian Health Advisory Coalition (MHAC), the BHH "targets Micronesian citizens (in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the US constitution, among others").

MHAC says that the State's administrative act, effective July 1, 2010, severely limits health care benefits to just the bare minimum thus seriously risking the health of many Compact of Free Association (COFA) citizens whose very lives depend heavily on State assisted medical services.

"COFA citizens find this administrative directive by the State unjust and discriminatory in view of the countless sacrifices and contributions of COFA citizens to Hawaii State and the United States."

By special political agreement with the U.S., the Compacts of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesian, and Palau, allow for COFA citizens to enter the US freely to work, study and/or reside without any specific date of expected departure.

The MHAC argues that COFA citizens as part of the work force are productive Hawaii State tax payers and serve proudly in the U.S. Armed Forces defending the U.S. and the cause of peace, security, and freedom.

"They (the Marshallese) readily surrendered their homelands as ground zero test site of the US Nuclear Weapon Testing Program which effectively ended the US - USSR Cold War and for the 'good of all mankind. It's not inconceivable to conclude then that the cancers which are being denied access to treatments today by BHH were in fact related to the US atomic nuclear testing program."

The MHAC Chair, Wilfred Alik, in a letter to the Micronesian community this week, said that COFA citizens and supporters resolve to end this unjust act by BHH by filing a class action lawsuit in court.

The LEJ represented them last year and were able to obtain temporary restraining order from the Courts against the State's initial July 2009 implementation of the Basic Health Hawaii Plan.

"In order to proceed forward with the litigation against the State, we certainly need your support," said Alik.

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