Korab v. Fink

Background on the Case

Korab v. Fink I was brought as a class action in September 2010 because of the State of Hawai‘i’s decision to discontinue Med-QUEST coverage of eligible COFA residents and replace it with the Basic Health Hawai‘i plan (BHH), which provided very limited and inadequate health care coverage. In December 2010, the U.S. District Court in Hawai‘i ruled that implementation of BHH constituted unlawful discrimination and granted a preliminary injunction that prevented BHH from replacing the more comprehensive Med-QUEST coverage.

The State appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which has authority over the U.S. District Court in Hawai‘i. On April 1, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion that the State of Hawai‘i is not required to provide state-paid health care to people residing in Hawai‘i under the Compact of Free Association. The case is currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Effect on Health Care for COFA Residents

Although the Ninth Circuit issued a decision that vacated the District Court’s preliminary injunction, it has not yet issued a mandate to the District Court to lift the injunction. Therefore, Basic Health Hawai‘i is not yet in effect. According to a statement made by Attorney General David Louie on April 8, Governor Abercrombie’s administration will not make a decision about whether or not to implement BHH until after the lawsuit is finally resolved.

Additional Efforts

The lawsuit is only a small part of the advocacy on this issue. Ultimately, it is critical that the community pursue a broader strategies to build the public support and political will to stop BHH from replacing the more comprehensive Med-QUEST coverage. Many are already working toward this end. You can go to healthypacific.org to learn more about the latest happenings and how to get involved. The implementation of Basic Health Hawai‘i will have a devastating effect on the health of Hawai‘i’s residents—taxpayers, workers, students, and members of our community—and the community must make clear that denying equal access to life-saving healthcare on the basis of cost is wrong. It will only cost lives and hurt the entire community. To keep this from happening, it is important to get as many people as possible involved with this effort.

For more information on the background of the litigation, please click here.