State finds $1.5M for dialysis


POSTED: Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Micronesians receiving kidney dialysis treatments will continue to get such care once the state shifts them to a new, more limited health care coverage plan, state officials said.

The new cost-saving plan, known as “;Basic Health Hawaii,”; goes into effect today, transferring about 7,500 noncitizens from comprehensive medical assistance to the plan with more limited benefits. Pregnant women and children are excluded.

Advocacy groups for Micronesians, who make up most of the noncitizens being transferred, said the new plan would cut kidney dialysis treatment for about 100 patients and chemotherapy for 130 to 160 cancer patients.

Micronesian community groups held sit-ins in the governor's office last week and yesterday to call attention to their cause.

Yesterday, Human Services Director Lillian Koller announced the state had identified a source of federal funds that could be used to cover dialysis treatments as an emergency service, without added cost to the state. The state will receive about $1.5 million annually in Medicaid reimbursements to fund dialysis for patients in the new Basic Health Hawaii plan.

;[Preview]  State Announces Temporary Reprieve For Micronesians

The state says it's going to tap federal Medicaid fund to cover low-income Micronesian patients needing dialysis for another 2 years.

Watch ]


Meanwhile, she said the department continues to work with hospitals on ensuring continued chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.

Chemotherapy does not meet the federal criteria for emergency treatment, so similar federal funds are not available, Koller told the community members.

However, she said the Queen's Medical Center has said it will continue providing chemotherapy to noncitizens who came to Hawaii under the Compacts of Free Association with the federal government, stemming from U.S. nuclear weapons tests in isolated Pacific islands a half-century ago.

An attorney for Lawyers for Equal Justice said the advocacy group still plans to challenge the implementation of Basic Health Hawaii.

“;We think there are a number of questions that still have to be answered, and we think that the process that was engaged in by the government was contrary to legal requirements in the state,”; said Victor Geminiani, executive director of Lawyers for Equal Justice.