December 20, 2017
WASHINGTON – Following Congress passing tax reform, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) released a statement of condemnation. The tax legislation repeals the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will lead to 13 million people losing their health insurance and premiums increasing by 10 percent.
“In order to include tax loopholes for the wealthy, this bill removes a crucial element of the Affordable Care Act – the individual mandate—and will undoubtedly destabilize health insurance markets and cause millions to lose coverage,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “Yet, the damage goes even further. Congressional leaders have acknowledged the incredible $1.5 trillion deficit caused by this bill and have already promised to close that deficit by attacking programs that millions of Americans are relying on to be able to eat and count on coverage for their children through SNAP and Medicaid. It is a shameful day that our leaders in Washington have chosen to prioritize tax cuts on the backs of low- and middle-income Americans.”
Since the ACA became law, the individual mandate and expanded coverage options have worked together to cut the uninsured rates for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) by half. Before the ACA, many groups, such as Korean, Indonesian and Micronesian Americans had uninsured rates above twenty percent. Repealing the individual mandate will discourage healthy and young people from signing up for health insurance, meaning that insurance companies will raise overall premiums for millions more. In addition, the tax reform bill denies the child tax credit to immigrant children without a social security number.
While there is legislation pending in the Senate to help stabilize insurance markets (currently referred to as the Murray-Alexander bill), the bill faces steep opposition in both chambers. Even if passed, the Murray-Alexander bill would not be able to repair the damage done by the tax law’s changes and cuts to coverage.