Efforts by the Marshallese and Micronesian community to get the Oregon State Legislature to extend health care services to citizens of the freely associated states took a step forward in January, when the Legislative Council endorsed the draft legislation and assigned it a bill number.
This follows an initiative started last year, in which the legislature called for a study on the matter in response to lobbying efforts. Both Democrat and Republican legislators have actively supported the legislation, according the COFA Alliance National Network. The aim of the proposed legislation is to fill the gap in health services for FAS citizens that was created when the US Congress eliminated FAS citizens from Medicaid coverage 20 years ago.
The draft legislation is now Oregon House Bill 4071.
A new report submitted to the legislature titled “Facing Race” says about 20 percent of Oregonians are people of color, and the state can do more to ensure fairness and equality for all, according to an article by the Public News Service.
“One bill coming up in February would make Oregon the first state to restore the rights of residents who came here through the Compact of Free Association (COFA) from some Pacific islands,” noted the article. David Anitok, co-founder with the COFA Alliance National Network, said they work, pay taxes and join the military – but those who are low-income can’t apply for Medicaid.
Read more about this in the February 5, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.