For Immediate Release
March 21, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, released an FY 2013 budget proposal that would repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), make major changes to the Medicare program and substantially cut funding to public safety-net programs like Medicaid, resulting in disastrous consequences for seniors, low-income families and communities of color.

“Unfortunately, Chairman Ryan’s budget is just a continuation of the attacks on the ACA,” said Kathy Lim Ko, APIAHF president and CEO. “While communities from around the nation celebrate the success of the ACA and the law’s second anniversary this week, Ryan proposes to take away insurance coverage for millions of low- and moderate-income Americans.”

The Ryan budget proposes to repeal the health care reform law, which includes an expansion of the Medicaid program that would extend coverage to 17 million low-income individuals in 2014, and subsidies to help moderate-income families purchase health insurance. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), eliminating these provisions would increase the number of uninsured persons in the country.

In addition, the budget would convert Medicaid into a block-grant structure, reducing the amount of money states receive from the federal government and burdening already struggling state budgets. In order to retain their programs, states would be forced to make cuts to Medicaid eligibility, services and provider payments. Proposals to convert the Medicaid program into a block grant or otherwise cap Medicaid funding are not a solution to the rising costs of providing health care coverage. In the U.S. Pacific Territories where the Medicaid program is capped, the governments of Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have struggled to find adequate funds to provide necessary benefits and provider payments for their residents. Currently, nearly one in 10 Asian Americans and one in 7 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders rely on Medicaid for health care. The CBO estimates that the Ryan budget would cut federal spending on Medicaid and CHIP by 75% by 2050 – effectively gutting the programs and reducing access to health care.

The Ryan budget would also significantly alter Medicare by raising the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 and converting the program into a voucher system. Approximately 34% of Asian Americans over the age of 65 only have Medicare coverage. Already financially struggling seniors would be forced to pay higher amounts for their health care as health costs eventually outpace voucher amounts. The Ryan budget would also convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant. SNAP has been especially important during the economic downturn as poverty levels have increased, providing millions of low-income individuals and families with access to food.

“Representative Ryan’s plan would radically alter programs, like Medicaid and SNAP, that are cost effective and proven,” said Priscilla Huang, APIAHF policy director. “We will continue to monitor and oppose any budget plan that burdens our nation’s most vulnerable populations.”

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