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Last updateThu, 19 Sep 2019 12am







    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-5:32:32A.M.






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Regional News

Washington state governor signs dental health bill for FSM and other FAS citizens

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — In part due to the ceaseless commitment towards advocacy from the COFA Alliance National Network or CANN, on May 8, 2019, Jay Inslee, governor of the State of Washington, signed into law Washington State Senate Bill 5274, which creates a dental care program for residents of the state who are citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Specifically, Washington State Senate Bill 5274 extends oral health insurance to low-income Micronesian citizens, treating the citizens of the FSM and the other Freely Associated States essentially equivalently with U.S. citizens for this purpose.

Jay Inslee

The bill was passed unanimously in Washington State’s legislature, with legislative sponsors including Washington State Senators Hasegawa, Hunt, Wilson, Billig, Nguyen, Conway, Das, Frockt, Keiser, Randall, and Saldana, with advocacy from CANN and its partners, including the Children’s Alliance of Washington and the Washington Commission on Asian Pacific Affairs.

“There continues to be growing bipartisan support for the Micronesian community, and many lawmakers have come around to better understand, and befriend, the Micronesian community,” said Joe Enlet, the FSM’s consul general in the U.S. State of Oregon and the president of CANN. “[However], all credit should be given to the community members themselves who have participated in advocating for these bills…. Community members have had legislators attend their community functions like weddings, birthday parties, and funerals.”

The signing of Washington State Senate Bill 5274 is one of many recent demonstrations of solidarity between the FSM and its U.S. partners, particularly in Washington state Oregon. For example, in Washington state all low-income Micronesian citizens are eligible for healthcare coverage in a manner essentially equivalent to how U.S. citizens living in the state are treated.

In Oregon, recent legislation include a driver’s license bill (which extends full-term driver’s licenses to Micronesian citizens), a resolution to recognize the Compact of Free Association, a COFA Premium Assistance Program (which provides medical coverage for low-income Micronesians in Oregon in an equivalent manner to U.S. citizens in Oregon), and a law enforcement bill (which allows citizens of the Freely Associated States to be eligible for careers in law enforcement).

“There are two other bills under review at the Oregon legislature,” said Consul General Enlet. “The first is a tuition equity [fairness] bill, which will make Micronesians qualify for in-state tuition at all public colleges in Oregon…the second is a bill that provides dental coverage for Micronesians in Oregon,” similar to the recently passed Washington State Senate Bill 5274.

The FSM national government expresses its most sincere appreciation and gratitude to the governments and people of Washington state and Oregon, for their bipartisan and genuine support for the Micronesians who live among them. The FSM national government similarly extends its appreciation to all who advocate for fair and equal treatment.

For more information about the special relationship between the FSM and the U.S., visit the website of the FSM Embassy in Washington, D.C.: