Governor Josh Green, M.D., accepted a Fiscal Year 2023 Compact Impact grant of $15,798,564 from the U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, Carmen G. Cantor.
The funding will help defray the state’s costs of providing services to citizens of the Freely Associated States residing in Hawaiʻi.
The State Department of Human Services has been a strong advocate for Hawaiʻi residents from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, which are members of the Compact of Free Association (COFA). The department recognizes the barriers to accessing quality health care this community has faced and in December of 2020, Congress restored Medicaid eligibility for U.S. residents from those nations.
In State Fiscal Year 2022, approximately 16,300 members of the COFA population residing in Hawai‘i received medical insurance coverage or premium assistance.
Eligibility for many of the safety net programs for these Pacific islanders was cut off, due to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which Hawaiʻi’s Congressional delegation has been working to correct.
The COFA treaties were first signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan and allowed citizens of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands to move to the United States without time limits or the burden of obtaining visas. The treaties recognize the responsibility the U.S. has to these nations for activities including nuclear testing from 1946 to 1958.
Photo credit: Office of Governor Green