Children’s Alliance members and staff joined parents, advocates, policymakers and families from across the state on Thursday, March 22 to witness the signing of Senate Bill 5683, delivering needed access to health care to Washington residents from three Pacific Island nations.
Here are a few highlights from the remarks at the bill’s signing in the state reception room, and from the gathering afterward with families from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.
“We are finally bringing justice in health care to the people who are so important to the fabric of our state: the Pacific Islander community,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “They live and work in many communities; this is truly an all-Washingtonian bill. And we know this is a kids’ bill because kids do better when every person in their families have health care.”
“There’s no more beautiful day than when you can right an injustice: today, providing health care for Pacific Islanders,” he said, signing the bill and turning to shake hands with health care advocates who had led the way to its passage.
“It is a great honor to be able to have health care here in this state. It’s beyond words,” said Eldon Alik, Consul General for the Marshall Islands Consulate based in Springdale, Arkansas, a state with an estimated 15,000 Marshallese residents, at a gathering for the bill’s supporters afterward. “I want to express to the leaders here that we are working hand in hand…. When I look back at the history of our country, when we first came to the islands we faced rough seas. We had to face all kinds of adversities—just the same as here. We’re sailing here now.”
Children’s Alliance deputy director Jon Gould presented members of the COFA community with a photo collage showing families gathering at the state capitol to advance health care and nutrition assistance for Washingtonians from COFA nations over the past eight years. “We hope that this very small token expresses how full our hearts are and all of our appreciation for our journey together, which is not just this year but has lasted the past eight years,” he said. “And we are not done,” he concluded.