Children depend on parents and families for love, stability, guidance and care. We know from research, and common sense, that kids do better when their parents and caregivers do better. House Bill 1291 will help more kids' families get the health care they desperately need and have been too long denied.
Urge your Senator to vote YES for House Bill 1291!
When parents and loved ones are chronically or critically ill, or die young because of inadequate health care, children suffer. For Pacific Islander kids whose families come from nations with Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the United States, the scales are tipped unfairly toward this suffering.
Many Washingtonians from COFA nations face life-threatening and chronic health problems resulting from inadequate access to health care and the lasting and devastating impacts of U.S. nuclear testing in the region.
Three nations (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, and Federated States of Micronesia) have Compacts of Free Association with the United States. The Compacts provide the United States strategic military access to the region. Residents of COFA nations travel freely to the US. They live here and work, pay taxes and serve in the U.S. military in high numbers. But since 1996 they have been denied equal access to basic supports like Medicaid and food stamps.
House Bill 1291 will establish a program to provide premium assistance to Washingtonians from COFA nations. It will help adults who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid to purchase health insurance through our state health exchange.
Children's Alliance member Jiji Jally is from the Marshall Islands. She submitted testimony in support of HB 1291:
"There were more than 60 hydrogen bombs detonated on our Islands, over 12 years. The radiation was equal to one Hiroshima bomb every day. Many people were forced to move. Many people became sick. We lost our food and our land.
We didn’t choose our situation. We came to the U.S. under the Compact of Free Association because our islands are still under use of the military agreement with the United States. We work like you. We pay taxes like you. Many of our people serve in the U.S military. We raise our kids like you. But we don’t have health care. A lot of people face cancer, diabetes, thyroid illness. Those things are bad enough with health care. But for us without preventative care treatment, many people die young. People can’t even buy their test strips for diabetes.
My cousin got diagnosed with cancer and she passed away in December. She left behind four children. She was young, she didn’t get the care or treatment she needed because she had no health insurance. She is one. But there are many others."
This bill will restore a measure of justice to Washington families from COFA nations by providing access to more affordable health coverage. It will help more kids have happy, healthy lives.
Tell your Senators to vote YES for SHB 1291!
P.S. Click here to watch a powerful speech in support of HB 1291 by lead sponsor Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, just prior to passage of the bill in the House of Representatives.