Micronesians, Palau, and the Marshall Islands come to Hawaii and the rest of the United States through the Compact of Free Association (COFA), a law that guarantees Americans and Micronesians easy entry into one another’s countries. COFA allows migrants in the U.S. a status nearly identical to that of a native-born American citizen. The U.S., in turn, enjoys exclusive military access and base rights to the strategic waters of Micronesia.
Hawaii Congressional Delegation Leads Effort to Restore Health Care Access for FAS Citizens
June 21, 2017 | WASHINGTON, D.C.
Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation to reinstate Medicaid coverage for Freely Associated States (FAS) citizens living in the United States.
The Covering our FAS Allies (COFA) Act would restore Medicaid coverage, known in Hawaii as Med-QUEST, for FAS citizens. The United States entered into the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the governments of the Freely Associated States (FAS), which include the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau that allow FAS citizens to live in the United States and receive certain benefits, including medical coverage. However, in 1996, Congress cut off FAS citizens from access to certain Medicaid benefits.
“This bill will right a wrong that has gone on for far too long,” said Representative Gabbard. “The Federal Government made a promise to these individuals, and it must uphold that commitment, and provide Medicaid to FAS citizens from Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard today spoke at the Fourth Annual Hawai‘i on the Hill Policy Summit, where she thanked the over 70 Hawai‘i business leaders and stakeholders for coming to Washington, D.C. and engaging with leaders to increase economic opportunity for Hawaii.
Over 70 Hawai’i business leaders met with members of Congress and federal officials. It was the Fourth Annual Hawai`i on the Hill Policy Summit, with representatives of diverse industries in Hawai`i – including manufacturing, health care, transportation, and others.
Among those participating were co-sponsor Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce, Hawai`i County Council Vice-Chair Valerie Poindexter, Hawai’i County, University of Hawai’i, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Hawai’i Crop Improvement Association, Kona Coast Shellfish and Big Island Candies.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard later visited the Fourth Annual Taste of Hawai‘i reception on Capitol Hill which featured over 70 members of Hawaii’s local business community, ranging from food and beverage companies to representatives from energy, tourism, and farming industries.
“I was honored to welcome business, community, and state leaders from Hawai‘i to Washington during this annual visit, where they showcased the great economic opportunities and achievements of our state. They brought the aloha spirit with them, and lots of lei, making great connections and leaving a strong impression on policymakers and leaders in Washington. I look forward to continuing to work with these great partners towards policies and opportunities that will strengthen our Hawai‘i economy,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Wednesday’s policy summit ushered in the third and final day of Hawai‘i on the Hill, an event organized by the Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Senator Mazie Hirono to highlight Hawaii’s contributions to the country. Beginning with the King Kamehameha I Lei Draping Ceremony on Sunday and ending with the Taste of Hawai‘i today, Hawai‘i stakeholders, business owners, and friends of our Aloha state gathered to celebrate what makes Hawai‘i unique and special. 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year that the Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce has partnered with local and national organizations to introduce representatives from Hawaii’s public and private sectors to federal policymakers.