January 12, 2016

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: 

“Throughout his presidency, President Obama has focused intently on improving the lives of all Americans through strengthening our economy, our communities, and our families. His final address tonight underscored how far we have come in the last seven years and how much further we need to go to have a more equitable and inclusive nation. 

Nearly six years after enactment, the President’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has brought historic changes to our communities. More than 17.6 million people now have health coverage, including millions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) who gained coverage through the Marketplaces and expanded Medicaid. Before the ACA, nearly one in seven AAs and NHPIs were uninsured and even more were underinsured. Now in the middle of the third open enrollment period, we at APIAHF are honored to be a part of Action for Health Justice (AHJ), a national collaborative working with community partners and in-person assisters in 22 states to close the health insurance gap. During the first two open enrollment periods, AHJ partners outreached, educated, and enrolled more than 850,000 AAs and NHPIs and provided one-on-one assistance in 56 languages. 

Yet, despite the gains that so many families have seen with the ACA, so many more continue to be left out. Sixteen states still refuse to expand their Medicaid programs to hard-working, struggling adults. This disproportionately impacts low-income people of color who comprise the majority of people eligible for Medicaid. 

As we work to improve the health of our nation, we must remove the arcane barriers in our broken immigration system that prevent immigrants and their families from accessing the care they need. Regardless of immigration status, all families need health care for an opportunity at a healthy future and for the economic sustainability of our nation. We are a better nation when all people have access to essential care. The President’s executive actions are an important first step in providing relief for millions of immigrant youth and parents. But, up to half a million AA and NHPI youth continue to live in limbo and are in fear of deportation as we wait for the Supreme Court to issue the final word. We are supportive of the President’s commitment to continue fighting for immigrant families on all fronts and further advance health equity for all. 

During this new year, we look to our leaders across the nation and in Washington to move forward toward a more equitable America. When our children are healthy, our families, communities and economy will be healthy, too.”