March 4, 2014

WASHINGTON—Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued the following statement in response to the release of President Obama’s 2015 budget.

“We applaud the president for his continued focus in the 2015 budget to fund critical health care initiatives that will not only help boost our economy, but will also help pave a path to a healthier America.

As part of the budget, the president included a proposal to expand HIV/AIDS treatment, care and prevention access. For those of us who have worked many years to help reduce HIV incidence and close the gap for HIV-related health disparities, this is a welcome and necessary step towards improving health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS and furthering the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

With the Affordable Care Act already boasting enrollment numbers of more than 3 million in private plans alone, it is clear that opening the door to affordable, high-quality health care insurance—especially for lower and middle-income Americans who are more likely to be uninsured—was needed. We implore the president and his team to turn their attention to providing greater access for limited-English proficient residents so that they too can enroll.

To further support low-income and middle-class families, President Obama is proposing to strengthen the earned-income tax credit and child tax credit to create opportunities for all Americans to thrive economically. These changes would benefit 13.5 million childless working Americans and would raise the income of more than half a million people above the poverty line.

We are deeply disappointed, however, that the president’s budget again eliminates funding for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program which supports needed community-driven and responsive solutions to pressing health issues impacting communities of color. The program fills a critical void for communities of color by giving them the tools and resources they need to better understand their health needs and conditions and generate systems changes.

In addition, the budget continues restrictions on the ability of women relying on federal health programs, including Medicaid, to access abortion. These restrictions disproportionately burden vulnerable low-income women.

The president’s budget proposal takes important steps to bolster our economy and provides opportunities for America to become a healthier nation. However, more investment is needed to ensure federal programs fully meet the needs of all Americans, particularly programming such as REACH that is designed to directly improve the lives of communities of color. We view this budget as an important commitment and urge Congress to work towards robust funding levels.”