The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors (PARS) has joined 107 organizations and people calling to support nuclear frontline communities in Covid-19 Economic Relief Funding.
The coalition has written a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders, urging 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 residents. Those included in RECA are those exposure 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 Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau, to be included in Medicaid. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 unintentionally revoked COFA communities living in the United States of their eligibility for most federal benefits, including Medicaid.
The letter further stated that, “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, PARS said. Given heightened risk factors, the coalition asked that future stimulus packages to include provisions to reinstate medicate for COFA residents and to extend and expand RECA.