15 Dec 2010

Micronesian migrants regain Hawaii health care benefits

8:06 pm on 15 December 2010

Low-income migrants in Hawaii from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau have had their health benefits restored by a court ruling this week.

The three countries are all beneficiaries of separate Compacts of Free Association treaties with the US.

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, says many patients from the three countries depend on healthcare available in Hawaii, including kidney dialysis and cancer treatments.

He says a court ruling in Hawaii now allows such migrants to get health care coverage again.

"Hawaii has a very liberal health care situation. But because of the budget cut in the state, the Health Department had tried to limit the healthcare that was provided to Micronesians. And the Judge has simply said that they can't do that. So unless its appealed or overturned on appeal, it means the state will have to continue providing the services."

The previous Hawaii administration had tried to save about 8 million US dollars a year by cutting benefits to migrants under a new plan that came into effect in July.