January 20, 2015

WASHINGTON – After President Obama delivered his State of the Union address tonight, Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the President’s focus on factors that will undoubtedly strengthen our economy and provide more opportunities for working families –– tackling income inequality, improving access to higher education, and most importantly, strengthening health security. Middle- and low-income families have struggled for many years during the recession, and we are heartened by efforts and policies to help them build a better future.

Increasing access to quality, affordable health care will benefit the health and well-being of all Americans as well as build greater economic security. The President’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is already helping to do just that. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs) are among the more than 10 million Americans who now have access to quality coverage they can afford, thanks to the law.

APIAHF has helped make the ACA a reality for AAs and NHPIs throughout the country. Collectively with our Action for Health Justice partners, we have worked across 22 states and provided outreach and assistance in 41 languages. And in doing so, we have heard the stories of countless individuals and families.

Prior to the ACA, for example, many AAs and NHPIs had to make the difficult choice of putting food on the table or paying for needed medical expenses. Others did not see a doctor for over 30 years. Some didn’t even know they were sick before they got enrolled, but are now able to access needed services and medications. Similar to the First Lady’s guests tonight, the ACA has been a lifeline for them.

Yet, at the same time, significant numbers of hardworking immigrants who call America home are shut out of the same opportunities to fully realize the American Dream. The President’s executive actions on immigration through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are important steps. Congress, however, must act and pass humane and responsible immigration reform that supports all Americans.

In the last two years of this Administration, we hope our nation’s leaders will work together towards a more inclusive and equitable America for all. When all children and all families are healthy, we can ensure our economy is healthy too.”