Thursday, December 24, 2009

Medically Needy Immigrants Win Ruling (KITV)

Medically needy immigrants scored an important victory when a Circuit Court judge ruled that the Department of Human Services illegally cut the immigrants' access to state-funded medical benefits.

The immigrants hail from the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia and are living in Hawaii.

Judge Gary W.B. Chang made Wednesday's ruling on the heels of a temporary restraining order issued by the federal court in September that temporarily halted the implementation of those rules. The ruling confirmed the immigrants’ contention that state violated their rights.

The plaintiffs were represented pro bono by Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, attorneys Paul Alston and Zachary McNish and Elizabeth Dunne of Lawyers for Equal Justice.

"Public rulemaking is an important process that the state cannot ignore," said McNish.

Due to the lawsuit, the state is now required to follow procedures that will allow for pubic comment and criticism of proposed rules that will determine what level of benefits will be provided to immigrants from these Compact of Free Association states.

"Allowing public participation will help reduce the confusion and anxiety created by DHS's first, invalid attempt to suddenly eliminate lifesaving medical care in August 2009," said Dunne.The public hearing on the new rules will be at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Liliuokalani Building.

Neighbor Island residents may provide testimony by contacting the Med-Quest division on each island.

For copies of the proposed rules or information click here or call 692-8132.

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