Pacific Islanders, which includes the thousands of Marshallese adults legally residing in Arkansas under the Compact of Free Association or COFA, are now eligible to enroll in Medicaid. The Marshallese Educational Initiative is preparing to assist qualified islanders with enrollment.
Arkansas Senator Lance Eads of District 7 in NWA sponsored the resolution, considering his district has the largest concentration of Marshallese in the country. Eads said the resolution is non-binding and allows the Legislature to support Congress and Arkansas' decision to amend medicaid eligibility. "We want to show our support through this resolution," he said.
The Marshallese community suffers disproportionately to chronic illnesses and health issues due to the disruption of their traditional, indigenous-specific culture.
Many Marshallese have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 due to lack of health insurance as well. "Having access to Medicaid lifts the financial burden to some families... money saved could be used towards other essential needs," said Benetick Kabua Maddison, Project Specialist, Climate and Nuclear Issues, and Education for the Marshalles Educational Initiative.
The Marshallese community makes up approximately 3%
of the Northwest Arkansas population, more than 12,000
of which are Springdale residents.
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