For Immediate Release
March 30, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) today applauded President Barack Obama for signing the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) into law. The Reconciliation Act enhances provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act (H.R. 3590) which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.

The Reconciliation Act provides $11 billion in funding to community health centers for 2011-2015, provides low- and middle-income individuals with tax credits for the purchase of health coverage through newly created health care Exchanges, improves Medicaid funding for the U.S. Territories, and closes the Medicare “doughnut hole,” among other important reforms.

“The enactment of the Reconciliation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordability Act is the historic start of health care reform that will advance the health of the low-income, elderly, minority, and immigrant populations,” said Kathy Lim Ko, president and chief executive officer of APIAHF. “Our communities look for reform to produce improved access, affordability, and the quality of health care necessary to mitigate the high rates of breast cancer mortality, cervical cancer, and many other serious health disparities that persist within our communities.”

Additional health policy changes are 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. The final health care reform bill also excluded a provision in the House bill to restore Medicaid coverage to all citizens of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau who are living in the United States.

“While we are excited that this historic legislation has been signed into law, we must still address the barriers that remain in access to quality health care for our communities. With more than three-in-five of Asians Americans being foreign born, the current five-year waiting period imposed on tax-paying, legal immigrants who are seeking Medicaid coverage has a considerable impact on access to care,” said Deeana Jang, policy director of APIAHF. “Denying undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance through the newly created Exchanges only serves to make health care more expensive for everyone. We also cannot continue the inequitable treatment of the U.S. Territories in Medicaid. We hope that this legislation marks only the beginning of a series of improvements necessary to advance the health of this nation’s low-income, minority, and immigrant populations.”

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.