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Washington Governor To Visit Spokane Friday To Celebrate With Marshallese Community

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will be in Spokane this afternoon [Friday] for a variety of meetings.

They include a meeting at Harmon Park with the city’s Marshallese population to celebrate a new law that gives them easier access to state-subsidized health care.

The new law signed last month by Governor Inslee allows low-income Washington residents from three Pacific Island nations to qualify for Medicaid. That’s the program that provides free or reduced price health care to people with limited incomes.

Spokane is home to several hundred people from the Marshall Islands. That nation, Micronesia and Palau have an agreement that allowed the U.S. to test nuclear weapons near their homelands. In exchange, the people from those countries are allowed to move to and live in the States. But, due to the Clinton-era welfare reform, people from those nations have not been allowed to access subsidized health care. That, even though many have symptoms of illnesses related to exposure to high levels of radiation.

At the bill signing ceremony in Olympia, Inslee said providing premium assistance to Pacific Islanders is a moral duty.

“So I consider this an historic day where an injustice through the decades for so many families, for so many military families, so many people who have come to build a better Washington, to give people health care truly is the right thing to do for the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

Inslee estimates six to eight thousand Pacific Islanders will qualify for premium assistance, including several hundred Marshallese in Spokane.


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