Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Legislation to Increase Federal Resources for Hawaii’s COFA Migrant Community
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today joined a coalition of lawmakers in reintroducing the Compact Impact Relief Act to increase federal funding and resources for Hawai‘i and Pacific U.S. territories that provide health care, education, social, public safety, and other services to migrants of Freely Associated States (FAS) living in the United States.
In 1996, Congress passed a law that made migrants from Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands ineligible for federal Medicaid dollars. Without federal dollars, Hawaii has borne the cost of care for COFA migrants which has strained the state’s resources. Each year, the state spends an estimated $30 to $40 million to provide healthcare to these families. Yet in FY17, Hawai‘i received less than $14 million in federal funds to support this cost of care.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Without adequate federal funding, Hawaii’s state and local governments have faced tremendous strain and challenge in caring for the more than 17,000 COFA migrants in Hawai‘i, who were promised care and services by the federal government. This legislation will relieve much of this burden by increasing federal funding and resources for Hawai‘i to deliver needed healthcare, education, social, public safety, and other services to COFA migrants who call Hawai‘i home.”
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo said, “Addressing Compact impact has always been and remains a top priority for me in Congress. This bill seeks to bring much-needed federal dollars and resources to compensate Guam for the costs of serving Compact migrants. I continue to believe that the Compacts are an important national security and economic agreement between the U.S. and the Freely Associated States, but the federal government must do more to help the affected jurisdictions’ governments with the costs they bear to provide services to Compact migrants. This bill provides a holistic approach to the challenges of the Compacts. If they are to be renewed after they expire in fiscal year 2023, Congress must first increase exponentially Compact impact funding for Guam and the affected jurisdictions. I hope that Governor Calvo will join me in demanding that the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans increase mandatory Compact impact funding for GovGuam, as a requirement for any renewal of the Compacts after 2023.”
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