Healthcare plan hurts Micronesians - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Healthcare plan hurts Micronesians

Elma Coleman Elma Coleman

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A new healthcare program aims to save the state $15-million. But one group is pleading to the governor to stop this from happening.

The new Basic Hawaii Health Program doesn't include life saving dialysis or chemotherapy treatments for micronesians. It's a cost the state can't afford to pay for anymore.

They sing to save their health benefits. Some hope it won't be their final song.

"Come next Tuesday, September First, people will be doing dialysis, next week Tuesday and this actually stops dialysis from being covered," Micronesians United member Tita Raed said. "That means that these Micronesian people will be flooding the emergency rooms, they'll be wasting taxpayers dollars because the bills will not get paid."

But Governor Lingle says in order to fill the huge budget gap, they need to make these types of cuts.

"We simply don't have the money anymore, even to meet what are our responsibilities, so when we had to cut our spending, it was a reasonable place to look," she said.

The state picked up the tab for these treatments, but now they're asking the federal government to step in and pay for it.

"We have a lot of compassion for the people, we feel very badly about this, but hope it will bring the federal government to the table in a way we haven't been able to do before," Lingle said.

About 30 members of the group, Micronesians United, rallied at the State Capitol Friday. They also sat in the governor's office for several hours demanding to see her. But they were unsuccessful and left feeling disappointed and neglected.

"We have a matter of life and death, that we face now because the governor has declared that the Medquest Program, that the Micronesians are receiving medical treatment under is going to be cut," Micronesians United member Elma Coleman said. "People's lives are at stake, people will die."

The group will make a second attempt to meet with the governor on Monday morning. That's a day before the new plan goes into effect.

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