SAN FRANCISCO (March 23, 2010) – The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum on Tuesday applauded President Barack Obama for signing into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), historic health care reform legislation which will increase access to care for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities.APIAHF also urged the U.S. Senate to make additional improvements to our nation’s health care system by quickly passing the House-passed Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872).
This historic health care reform legislation includes unprecedented investments in prevention, public health, disease research, and screening and will end discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. The legislation includes $7 billion increased funding for community health centers over the next 5 years, increases funding for programs that will diversify the nation’s health care workforce and increases the availability of culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. It also expands Medicaid to the working poor, and provides low- and middle-income individuals with tax credits for the purchase of health coverage through newly created health care Exchanges.
“We are encouraged by the passage of this historic legislation, which will bring affordable health coverage to at least thirty million more people in the United States,” said Kathy Lim Ko, president and Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 CEO of APIAHF. “The increased funding for community health centers and other programs will go a long way in providing care in our diverse communities and ending the health disparities that our communities face.”
Ms. Ko stated that additional health policy changes were needed to improve the health of AA and NHPI communities, including increased funding for qualified health interpreters and translators and the elimination of a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to access the Federal Medicaid program. Allowing legal immigrants to access cost-saving preventive care would in many cases eliminate costly emergency room treatment for health problems that have become too severe to ignore.
“We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that our communities have access to health care, and we are disappointed that Congress missed an opportunity to eliminate the five-year waiting period for lawfully present immigrants,” said Ko. “Almost two-thirds of us are foreign-born. Legal immigrants who would be otherwise eligible for Medicaid should not have to wait five years to be able to access this program – it’s too long to wait if you are diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness.”
APIAHF influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.