LOS ANGELES (May 4, 2017) — Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) condemns the United States House of Representatives’ vote (217-213) to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA would take away access to affordable and quality health coverage for 24 million Americans by 2026 and will negatively impact hundreds of thousands Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationally who currently have health coverage.
“The AHCA turns back the clock on the many gains our communities made under the ACA, which covered millions of consumers who previously had no access to health care because they had pre-existing conditions or could not afford the premiums,” says Doreena Wong, health access project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “There is no doubt that premiums will rise for most people and many who now have coverage through Medi-Cal will become uninsured again. The AHCA is simply a huge tax break for the wealthy, and devastates health coverage for low and middle income Americans.”
The AHCA eviscerates major parts of the ACA, taking away affordable health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and reduces the availability of financial assistance. It also ends expanded Medicaid and severely cuts the Medicaid program by $800 billion, and restricts eligibility to fewer legal immigrants and makes it harder to obtain coverage.
Prior to the ACA in 2012, 2.3 million Asian Americans (AAs) and 95,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) did not have access to health insurance. The ACA significantly closed the coverage gap for Americans, especially for AANHPIs by cutting uninsurance rates by 59% — the highest among all racial groups. The passage of the AHCA will impact over 600,000 AANHPIs who currently have health coverage plans through the federally-facilitated marketplaces using HealthCare.gov. In addition, over 226,000 AANHPIs enrolled in Covered California, as of December 2016, and nearly 650,000 AANHPIs who received coverage through the Medi-Cal expansion as of November 2016 may also lose their health coverage.
“The fact that the AHCA passed with only 2 votes to spare shows the unpopularity of the bill,” says Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “When the legislators go back to their districts, we must hold them accountable for their votes which will harm millions of people who will lose their health coverage. We now look to the Senate to stop this attempt to reverse health care as a right for all Americans.”
Advancing Justice-LA urges Senators to stand up for the basic human right of affordable healthcare for all. “We need to continue our actions targeting those who voted today in favor of the AHCA as well since the bill will most likely need to be reconciled if it passes the Senate,” says Wong. “It is now more critical than ever for community members to speak out and let their Senators know that the AHCA will be harmful to our communities and is not a valid solution.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.