The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors (PARS), along with 107 organizations and people, have submitted a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders.
The collaborative letter called for more support for nuclear frontline communities in COVID-19 Economic Relief Funding.
The letter pushed for the inclusion of provisions for those vulnerable to COVID-19 due to previous and ongoing radiation exposure from nuclear weapons activities.
The letter called for support to include Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in future stimulus packages and to reinstate Medicaid for Compacts of Free Association (COFA) residents. Those included in RECA are those exposed to radiation via “downwinders,” such as Guam and uranium miners.
The inclusion for RECA compensation in future stimulus packages would provide assistance for medical needs amidst COVID-19, in light of recent findings that individuals with lung cancer are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those without cancer.
It also called for COFA communities, citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, to be included in Medicaid.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 unintentionally revoked COFA communities living in the United States of their eligibility for most federal benefits, including Medicaid.
The letter further stated: “Over 61,000 COFA individuals and families living in the United States have struggled to access essential medical care. Many face serious chronic conditions and health disparities due to dependency on the United States, as well as the effects of military activity in the region, including 67 above-ground nuclear tests conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1962.”
The COVID-19 pandemic only heightens the risks these communities face through lack of care, including access to COVID-19 testing. Given heightened risk factors, the coalition asked that future stimulus packages include provisions to extend and expand RECA.