Target: Oregon Governor Kate Brown
Goal: Provide healthcare for Pacific Islanders who are living in the U.S.
There are hundreds of thousands of Pacific Islanders currently living in the United States. A significant percentage of them are denied access to Medicaid.
After World War II, the U.S. tested nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands and its surrounding areas. To make up for the damages they caused, the U.S. entered into a special diplomatic relationship with the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Under this agreement, people from those islands can live and work in the U.S. without a visa.
But in 1996, welfare reform excluded those same people from receiving Medicare and other federal assistance programs. By changing the residency requirements, Congress disenfranchised a population that sorely needs medical services. Pacific Islanders are poorer than the average white American, and due to our nuclear weapons testing they are also more susceptible to illnesses from radiation.
It is now up to the states to provide those services. Oregon has the fifth-largest population of Pacific Islanders but does not provide healthcare to many residents from these three nations. Tell Governor Kate Brown that it is time to provide basic health services for Pacific Islanders who came to the U.S. in search of a better life.
Dear Governor Brown,
I am writing to express my deep concern for Pacific Islanders’ lack of access to healthcare in Oregon.
Ever since welfare reform passed in 1996, large populations of Pacific Islanders have been denied access to Medicaid. In Oregon, there is a significant gap between the health outcomes of people from Compact of Free Association states (Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia) and the average Caucasian.
Healthcare is a basic human right, and people who came from COFA states to Oregon are denied that right. This gap in health services is even more appalling when one considers the United States’ history of weapons testing on their lands.
New York and Minnesota have showed leadership by extending healthcare to their residents who come from these nations. As the state with the fifth-largest COFA population, Oregon has a vested interest in providing for these residents.
I urge you to provide healthcare to Oregon residents who come from Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. It is time for Oregon to step up and take action.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Public Domain