January 28, 2013

WASHINGTON—Following tonight’s State of the Union address, Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued the following statement:

“Throughout his presidency, President Obama has focused his State of the Union addresses on rebuilding the economy, tackling income inequality, immigration reform and health equity. Tonight’s speech continued to drill down on these important points and we are encouraged that the next two years will help move the country forward.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) lays a foundation to help achieve health equity. Despite a rocky start, over 9 million Americans have joined the ranks of the insured. With just over two months remaining in open enrollment, however, we are still lagging in ensuring all communities—especially limited-English proficient ones—are able to reap all of the benefits of the ACA.

We cannot achieve a better and healthier America until all communities are fully integrated and have access to affordable, high quality care. Full Medicaid expansion is needed for the millions who are falling into the coverage gap. It is time for every state to put politics aside and people first.

Fixing our broken immigration system in a way that is both fair and inclusive is the crucial next step beyond the ACA. The president spoke passionately about how he looks forward to the day when Congress will come together and reform our outdated immigration system. We do too. Since last year’s passage of the senate bill, immigration has been put on the backburner.
We hope the president’s speech will reenergize Congress. Fixing our immigration system would pump millions of dollars into our struggling economy, provide a pathway to citizenship for those living in the shadows and reunite millions of families who have been separated for several decades.

Despite a slight resurgence in the economy in the past few years, lower and middle income families—many of whom are communities of color—continue to struggle. In the next two years, we hope leaders will put their differences aside and work together to ensure that all Americans are able to achieve the basics—food, clothing, shelter and affordable health care.”