March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—This week the House and Senate will consider their respective budget resolutions for Fiscal Year 2014. These proposals outline the plans that will guide Congress as it determines how to fund the federal government. The House Budget Committee passed Chairman Ryan’s budget last week, while the Senate Budget Committee passed Chairwoman Murray’s proposal.

“Chairman Ryan’s budget again sacrifices low- and middle-income Americans as well as public health advances and our nation’s future to protect the wealthy,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “While communities across the country celebrate the third anniversary of the health care reform law, the House Budget Committee’s plan would radically alter safety net programs that are essential services for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Chairman Ryan’s plan is unbalanced and out of touch with our communities and the nation’s priorities.”

The Ryan budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage expansions and convert Medicaid into a block grant for states—effectively increasing the number of uninsured while decreasing coverage protections for all. Block granting Medicaid would have disastrous consequences and force states to cut Medicaid eligibility, services and provider payments. Nearly one in ten Asian Americans and one in seven Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders rely on Medicaid for their health care. The Ryan budget’s proposals to block grant Medicaid or otherwise cap Medicaid funding are especially concerning because such approaches have already failed in the U.S. Pacific Territories where the Medicaid program is capped. As a result, the governments of Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have struggled to find adequate funds to provide necessary benefits and provider payments for their residents.

The Ryan Budget would also put seniors at risk by turning Medicare into a voucher program—raising out of pocket costs for many Medicare beneficiaries. Approximately 34% of Asian Americans over the age of 65 rely solely upon Medicare for their health coverage.

Ryan’s proposal is a stark contrast to Chairwoman Murray’s Budget which puts forward a balanced approach towards deficit reduction, protects essential health programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and ensures that the progress made under the ACA remains intact. Murray’s budget builds on the responsible reforms made in the ACA which will continue to decrease health care costs, expand access and promote consumer protections. Murray’s plan protects state budgets and puts the nation on a more sustainable path.

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.