Congressman Neil Abercrombie joined state legislators at the Capitol Friday, August 7 to rally against the governor's new medical plan that will be offered to 7,500 Pacific islanders in lieu of its Quest insurance program.
The plan, Basic Health Hawaii, starting September 1, will cover up to 12 outpatient doctor visits, ten hospital days, six mental health visits, and five generic prescription drugs a month.
The services it does not cover are what concerns lawmakers, health center officials and patients.
These patients, who originate from Chuuk, Palau, the Marshall islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, will not receive preventive care such as regular dialysis and chemotherapy treatments.
Without preventive care, the governor is putting people's lives in danger said Rep. John Mizuno.
Patients with kidney disease would only be able to receive dialysis treatment at an emergency room when their conditions become critical.
In addition, lawmakers are worried about the cost hospitals will absorb when emergency rooms become flooded with Basic Health Hawaii patients. Community health centers will continue to service patients, but they will not be reimbursed. The cost of an emergency room visit is almost three times the cost of a regular dialysis treatment.
Lawmakers and community members are urging Gov. Linda Lingle to release $12 million in general funds to secure federal matching medicaid funds (SB 423), which can be used to cover dialysis and chemotherapy treatments for all those under the Basic Health Hawaii plan.