February 9, 2016

WASHINGTON– Today, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) released the following statement supporting President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget.

“We are encouraged by the President’s focus on strengthening our economy and investing in the health of our nation, as well as enforcing federal protections against all forms of discrimination,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “Central to this budget is ensuring that all families and communities have access to affordable health coverage they can count on, which is especially important for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) families. We are pleased to see continued efforts to expand state Medicaid programs to hard-working Americans and join the President in calling on Congress to pass his Medicaid expansion funding proposal.”

The President’s budget takes necessary steps toward achieving health equity by making critical investments to stem the impact of chronic diseases and eliminate health disparities. It increases funding for the National Institutes of Health and supports the “moonshot” to eliminate cancer. Since 1980, cancer has been a leading cause of death for AA and NHPI women. Furthermore, the budget expands access to HIV prevention and treatments through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and increases funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2019.

Importantly, the budget proposes to eliminate Medicaid caps as they are currently applied to the territories, including the U.S. Pacific Territories. Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have struggled to find sufficient funds provide adequate health services for their populations. Eliminating the Medicaid caps would provide parity for the territories and break down barriers to care that currently prevent these populations from getting the care they need.

APIAHF is disappointed to see the budget drastically reduce funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. The bipartisan fiscal year 2016 budget recognized the importance of the program, but the proposed fiscal year 2017 cuts funding from $51 million to $30 million, a reduction that will undoubtedly harm projects that are making a difference in racial and ethnic communities across the country. With funding from the REACH program, APIAHF worked in 2013 alongside the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health and 16 community-based organizations in 10 states and Guam on projects to improve nutrition and increase physical activity in AA and NHPI communities. Through proven interventions such as community gardens, walking trails, farmers’ markets, and making playgrounds more accessible, APIAHF efforts collectively reached more than 1.4 million AAs and NHPIs at a cost of just $2.04 per person. In order to continue these projects and many others, APIAHF encourages the President to fully fund the REACH program.