Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Honolulu-Advertiser: A federal judge has blocked cutbacks to state-funded medical care for about 7,500 adult Micronesians from taking effect today.

A federal judge has blocked cutbacks to state-funded medical care for about 7,500 adult Micronesians from taking effect today.

Micronesians have rallied against the cuts, saying they would leave patients without critical care.

The new program, called Basic Health Hawaii, was aimed at saving the state about $15 million a year.

U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright issued a temporary restraining order against the state this morning, requiring them to continue providing medical care for Micronesians until a decision on the case is made.

The next hearing in the case is set for Oct. 19.

A temporary restraining order requested in state court was denied.

Victor Geminiani, executive director of Lawyers for Equal Justice, which is representing the Micronesians, said that Basic Health Hawaii was "thrown together behind closed doors" and violated patients' rights.

"The process was so deficient," he said.

Germiniani and Rep. John Mizuno plan to have a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today at the state Capitol in room 437 to announce the TRO.

The state Department of Human Services, which oversees the medical program, said it would release a statement on the TRO decision this afternoon.

The 7,500 adult Micronesians who get medical care through the state must meet income requirements. Children and pregnant women are covered under a separate program.

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