Healthcare benefits for citizens of Compact nations were approved last week by the Oregon State Legislature, and will go into effect on January 1.
The history-making COFA Premium Assistance Program legislation was proposed two years ago by CANN — the Compact of Free Association Action National Network — and endorsed by both Republican and Democratic legislators in Oregon. CANN — which includes Marshallese, Micronesians and Palauans — worked with legislators to support the legislation.
The newly adopted COFA Premium Assistance Program will be administered by Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services to provide financial assistance with health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Pacific islanders legally residing in Oregon under the Compact of Free Association. For citizens from these three Compact nations, “this is a restoration of health care benefits they need, deserve and had every right to,” said the CANN group. “The CANN board and staff are incredibly grateful for the support given to our people from the State of Oregon and the Oregon people. January 1st 2017, low income COFA citizens can once again have a primary care doctor, for the first time in 20 years.”
The new legislation will restore healthcare benefits to 1,500 people at a cost of $1.8 million. This is to be accomplished not through Medicaid, but by helping to pay for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Read more about this in the March 11, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.