By Hedy Tripp
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (March 15, 2017) — As conservative members of Congress continue their crusade against the Affordable Care Act, I am left wondering who will be responsible for caring and treating the millions of people who stand to lose their health care and necessary preventative and reproductive health services?
At best—this is a question members of Congress simply neglect to ask because they don’t have to worry about choosing between supporting their health and meeting their basic needs. At worst—they’ve asked the question and simply don’t care.
The over two million Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who gained coverage under the ACA and who now stand to lose it do not have that same luxury. And while the model minority myth would paint all our communities as healthy and wealthy, that’s far from the reality.
My mother immigrated to Minnesota twenty-two years ago and gained her American citizenship when she was 85. She presently resides at a nursing home that takes care of all her needs. She is the oldest AAPI resident at 102 years old. Our family is only able to provide this access to care because my mother has dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid. While any changes to ACA will probably not affect her at this time, so many AAPI women under the ACA repeal plan will not be so fortunate.
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, the ACA repeal plan would eliminate Medicaid expansion and switch to per capita funding by 2020. This could potentially lead to dramatic cuts to the program. Medicaid covers over half of long-term care spending, so those cuts could mean that families similar to my own may not have the same access to nursing home care in the future.
Additionally, under the ACA, insurers cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge young adults for the same coverage. The new proposal would allow an age ratio of five-to-one (and potentially more depending on the state). Because of this, older Americans could see dramatic increases to their premiums.
Just last week, we observed Asian American Equal Pay Day, and the economic insecurity that AAPI women often experience due to the wage gap. The wage gap gets worse for AAPI women as they age. The increased cost sharing and premiums in the ACA repeal plan would place even greater economic burden on AAPI women and families, and create additional barriers for members of our community to access essential health and reproductive care.
The ACA repeal plan would take us backward, and many members of our community cannot afford the setback. Our family was fortunate that we could tend for my mother as she aged and find her a caring place where she can grow old with dignity. We need a health care system that will help every member of our community thrive at every stage of their lifespan and thus contribute fully to the healthy economy of our country.
Hedy Tripp is a volunteer with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.