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Non-U.S. Citizen Group Protests Health Cuts

A group of Micronesians and non-U.S. citizens go to the governor's office in hopes of changing cuts to their health care.
/ Source: KHNL-TV

A group of Micronesians and non-U.S. citizens made a last-ditch effort on Friday to save their benefits before Tuesday when the basic health coverage kicks in.

Holding signs with their message members of the Micronesian community were driving up support in front of the capital.

The state is looking to save $30 million over the next two years with the proposed basic health plan.

"It's a form of discrimination. It picks a vulnerable the minority group: the Micronesians. It identifies us as a group of fundings that should be stopped," said Elma Coleman, of Micronesians United.

Starting Sept. 1, 7,500 Micronesians and other non-U.S. citizens will no longer receive comprehensive coverage. The new plan does not cover kidney dialysis treatments or prescription drugs for chemotherapy patients.

"This is not the right decision. This is going to save the state money, but how much money is equitable or equal to a human life and it's not just one life that's going to be affected theirs many, many men and women who will die if chemotherapy is stopped, if dialysis is stopped," University of Hawaii student Angela Hoppe-Cruz said.

The group walked into the governor's office demanding to speak with Linda Lingle. However they were told she was in a closed meeting and not available.

"She should at least have the decency to step out of her meeting because she will have health care next week," Hoppe-Cruz said.

They waited for an hour and a half eventually sitting down but the governor never showed. She addressed the situation later in the afternoon.

"This is a federal government responsibility. I recognize that it doesn't help the individual people for me to say that. It is just that fact that we don't have the money anymore," Lingle said.

The governor said she is compassionate toward those affected but her hands are tied.

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