FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 7, 2016
Oregon Legislature advances Healthcare Coverage for legally residing Pacific Islanders with whom the United States has a unique treaty.
Salem, Ore. – With the passage of HB-4071 Oregon will provide a COFA Premium Assistance Program that allows health care coverage for COFA Pacific Islanders beginning in January 2017.
The Oregon legislature unanimously passed a watershed health care program that will give 1500 adult COFA Oregonians, whose income falls below 138% of the Federal Poverty limit, Medicaid-like health insurance coverage. Oregonian COFA Islanders are eligible to sign up to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and COFA advocates worked closely with the Department of Consumer and Business services (DCBS) to design a low cost ACA-linked health care program, where the federal government share is $9 for every dollar for state taxpayers pay.
HB-4071 was passed with unanimous support among both legislative bodies. Loyd Henion, CANN lobbyist, said “that much credit must be given to its Chief sponsors, Representative Andy Olson (R), Representative Dan Rayfield (D), Senator Alan Bates (D), and Senator Bill Hansell (R)“. In total, the bill had 42 sponsors. Many legislators mentioned that this bill was the right thing to do and was long overdue. They reasoned that if the federal government wouldn’t make amends for removing healthcare for legal, tax paying COFA residents in 1996 with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, then Oregon would.
The COFA treaty (Compact of Free Association) allows people from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, to freely reside in the United States without visas and stay to live as long as they choose. They join the US military, pay taxes, attend schools, and work at many different jobs (often in the healthcare industry).
The COFA Alliance National Network (CANN) is a non-profit advocacy group, whose specific focus is to restore social justice to COFA Islanders living the United States. In its advocacy work to restore health care for COFA Islanders, CANN was supported by several other other public policy groups, including; The Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, Oregon Health Equity Alliance, Oregon Primary Care Assoc., Oregon Law Center, and SEIU.
David Anitok, CANN Community Organizer, will be assisting DCBS in enrolling eligible COFA residents in the program beginning in November of 2016.
Kianna Angelo, CANN president said “that with the passage of the COFA Premium Assistance program Oregon once again is a model for other states by providing a blueprint health care program for a long neglected group for the rest of the country”.
Link to HB-4071: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2016R1/Measures/Overview/HB4071
To learn more go to: www.cann.us