25 Aug 2010

Marshallese in Hawaii sue over health care cuts

11:06 am on 25 August 2010

Marshall Islanders have filed a suit in Honolulu in an effort to block the state of Hawaii from cutting back medical services to islanders who cannot pay for treatment.

They claim the action violates anti-discrimination provisions of the United States constitution.

A spokesman of the Hawaii-based Marshall Islands group Pa Emman Kabjere, William Swain, says since the announcement was made last August of major cuts in healthcare insurance, specifically to the citizens of the Compact nations, 23 Marshallese have died.

On July the 1st, Hawaii's Health Department implemented a new plan for 7,500 residents from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands that ends their eligibility for costly cancer and dialysis treatment for kidney failure.

State officials said they needed to make the cuts because the state is facing a multi-million dollar deficit.

The law suit says Hawaii is violating the constitution by providing inferior health care benefits on the basis of the Miconesians' immigrant status.