Business

Residents Encouraged to Use Extended Healthcare Insurance Enrollment Period

December 28, 2015, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated December 28, 11:19 AM
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US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy photo.

US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy photo.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono encourages eligible Hawai‘i residents from the Compact of Free Association nations to enroll in healthcare coverage following the announcement that the enrollment period has been extended to Feb. 15, 2016.

Earlier this month, Sen. Hirono led a Hawai‘i delegation letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell to request a special enrollment period for COFA citizens in Hawai‘i due to the challenges experienced with the enrollment process on healthcare.gov.

Sen. Hirono spoke with Acting Administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt about how the call center hours and site maintenance downtime disadvantaged Hawai‘i’s COFA citizens because of the time difference and the need to approve certified language translators. CMS today announced the special enrollment period with retroactive coverage.

“It is critical that residents from COFA nations have the ability to sign up for health care insurance to take care of themselves and their families,” said Sen. Hirono. “This extension is just the latest effort in our state’s long-standing tradition of providing health care coverage for all. I thank everyone who has diligently worked on this issue, particularly Gov. Ige, my colleagues in the Hawai‘i congressional delegation, and especially Secretary Burwell and Acting CMS Administrator Slavitt for addressing the issues that Hawai‘i’s COFA citizens face during this transition. We will continue our efforts to facilitate the process to help these individuals and their families to make sure everyone has healthcare coverage. And while the enrollment period has been extended by 60 days, I am encouraging our Micronesian community to sign up without delay.”

“This is truly a Christmas gift to those families who missed the enrollment deadline,” said Josie Howard, program director for We Are Oceania. “On behalf of our Micronesian community here in Hawai‘i, mahalo nui,”

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“We are very grateful for the support and initiative from Sen. Hirono,” said Dr. Emmanuel Kintu, executive director of the Kalihi Palama Health Clinic. “It is great to know that we have leaders who understand the needs of the community and go the extra mile to address those needs,”

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We Are Oceania has 11 certified kokua assisters who have been working non-stop to enroll COFA citizens in Hawai‘i. Each individual application takes between two to four hours to complete.

Kalihi Palama Health Clinic serves some 6,000 patients from the Pacific Islands. Of those, 3,500 are impacted by the ongoing enrollment challenges.

Click here for the CMS guidance on the Special Enrollment Period for Compact of Free Association Migrants in Hawai‘i.

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