Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Help undo Lingle’s death sentence on Pacific Islanders with a few phone calls
by Larry Geller
Hawaii was shamed nationally and internationally last year when Governor Lingle, through her Department of Human Services, notified Micronesians and other Pacific Islanders residing in Hawaii that their dialysis and chemotherapy would no longer be paid for.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright is being asked to dismiss a lawsuit that would restore the benefits that the state is trying to reduce.
It may be that a new governor would choose not to contest this case, but the new governor is not in office yet. Maybe we ordinary citizens can help.
If you haven’t seen the story Judge torn on fate of nuke victims' care in this morning’s Star-Advertiser, please check it out.
What the judge is confronted with began with Governor Lingle’s decision to cut off dialysis and chemotherapy to the Pacific Island migrants residing in Hawaii.
Cutting off dialysis for someone is, of course, pretty much the same as a death sentence (speaking of death panels!). It’s no surprise that the DHS action was not allowed to stand.
As the article points out, as many as 27 people may have died as the result of Lingle’s action:
Will Swain, president of Pa Emman Kabjere, a group of 165 Marshallese cancer and dialysis patients, said many dialysis patients simply stopped treatment on Sept. 1, 2009, after receiving a letter from the state informing them they will no longer have coverage for dialysis.
"We've already lost 27 since Sept. 1, 2009," said Swain.
Judge Seabright is on a spot:
"You can see how I, myself, am struggling with this," Seabright said at a hearing yesterday on the state's motion to dismiss the suit on behalf of migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia and the republics of the Marshall Islands and Palau.
I faxed Senator Inouye and governor-elect Abercrombie this morning asking if they might possibly find some of the federal money that the story indicates the Lingle administration has not sought, and if they might make some joint statement on medical care for the Pacific Islanders.
Would their action influence the case? It might. Perhaps the judge would continue the medical care until the new administration comes into power. Of course, it would be a bit awkward for either Sen. Inouye or Abercrombie to take action while Lingle is still in power and arguing this case, but look: lives are at stake.
Inouye is the powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you’d think he could find the funds needed to pull this off.
If you would like to help, you can ask Inouye to find the money Lingle is accused of not asking for, and ask Neil Abercrombie to intervene. Inouye’s Honolulu office phone is (808) 541-2542. Ask him to make some public statement about finding money to relieve the burden on the state. Don’t worry, you don’t get the Senator himself on the line, it’s a staff member.
Abercrombie can be reached at his campaign headquarters: (808) 589-2237. Ask him to make some public statement about his intentions to provide medical care for the Pacific Islanders, or to otherwise intervene in the case as he sees fit.
Judge Seabright is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss next week. Who knows if we can make a difference. Your phone calls might do it, though. Please call. You can refer to this morning’s newspaper article.
I am appalled at Gov. Lingle decision to deny Pacific Islanders medical care for diseases/conditions as a result of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. I have called Sen. Inouyes's office and Gov. Abercrombie to request a statement that "it is recognized the unending debt owed to the people of Micronesia and other pacific islands" That funding for health care needs will be continued through the federal government as it should have been all along". Another negative for Lingle....
Thanks for your calls.
Everyone else? Please call or take some action. Let's give the judge some reason to continue the lawsuit and give gov-elect Abercrombie a chance to erase this sad action.