21 Aug 2009

Hawaii cuts free health services to freely associated Pacific states

12:47 pm on 21 August 2009

The State of Hawaii has announced it is cutting back on free health services provided to citizens of the freely associated states of Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federates States of Micronesia.

The reduction in services will come into effect from September the first and will mean citizens will no longer be eligible to receive free dialysis and chemotherapy treatment.

Several thousand residents in Hawaii who are from Micronesia receive the free services including basic health care and treatment for more severe ailments.

Our Marshall Islands correspondent, Giff Johnson, says it is no longer viable for Hawaii to continue providing the special treatments as it costs 90 million US dollars a year and the United States federal government only reimburses 11 million dollars under the Compact Impact funding initiative.

"There are quite a number of people from Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia and probably Palau who are receiving the benefit of dialysis treatment which essentially keeps people alive in an end state diabetes situation because there are such heavy diabetes problems in the islands. So this is a very critical problem for the maybe few hundred people who are receiving this type of services."

Giff Johnson says US Congress members from Hawaii are attempting to increase the US federal funding to maintain health programmes.