State morally obligated to help Micronesians


POSTED: Tuesday, September 01, 2009

When Gov. Linda Lingle proposed a new health care program for Micronesians as a cost-cutting measure, migrants from the Compact nations (Compact of Free Association) saw the action as a death sentence. When a governor declares a policy that has life or death implications, people of faith need to stand up and say 'no' to such policies.

By removing Micronesians from Medquest and providing instead a basic health program that does not include kidney dialysis or chemotherapy, starting today, more than 100 recipients of such services are faced with a death sentence. However, if these recipients are told to go to hospital emergency rooms for services, the governor's plan to save $15 million becomes a sham because emergency services would cost five times more than what is being charged presently. So the question is, why is the governor implementing such an expensive program in the name of cost-cutting?

Many Micronesians come to Hawaii because they are survivors of our U.S. military detonation of 67 atomic and nuclear bombs. Just one bomb, the BRAVO blast, went 25 miles into the stratosphere and rained nuclear particles and residue throughout the Pacific; BRAVO was also 1,000 times stronger than the Hiroshima blast.

The state of Hawaii needs to find the funds to pay for at least the dialysis and chemotherapy patients until the federal government comes up with the funds to pay for this. For example, the governor can tap the “;stimulus funds”; that the federal government has made available to the state. She can also tap the funds that were passed by the Legislature to be used for the hospitals.

It is the state of Hawaii's moral obligation to find the funds—even if it means appealing to the public to raise the funds through United Aloha Way.

Julia Matsui Estrella is a member of Waipahu Filipino United Church of Christ and a member of Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries (PAAM).

Editor's note: The state late yesterday said it would pay for dialysis for affected patients. See story in Local News section by clicking on the link below.