January 3, 2013

WASHINGTON—The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) is encouraged that Congressional leaders and the administration were able to reach a compromise to avert the “fiscal cliff,” but urges lawmakers to work expeditiously on an agreement to reduce the debt through balanced spending reductions and tax increases before March 2013.

The last-minute deal maintains tax cuts for the middle class and temporarily extends unemployment insurance, both of which are especially important for low- and middle-income Americans struggling in the weakened economy. But, the agreement merely delays the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, for two months, setting the stage for continuing budget battles.

“We are pleased that Congressional leaders and President Obama came together on a compromise that protects middle-class Americans. We remain concerned, however, that the major spending cuts called for under sequestration threaten the nation’s public health infrastructure,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “Sequestration must be addressed through a balanced solution that combines spending cuts with revenue raises and protects critical health programs.”

Sequestration calls for an over 8 percent reduction in federal discretionary spending, coming at a time when major federal health initiatives, including health care reform implementation, are underway. While funding for Medicaid, health care reform and other critical safety net programs are largely protected under the sequester, these initiatives will likely be targets for significant cuts as Congressional leaders work on a more permanent solution in the coming weeks.

APIAHF is closely monitoring fiscal and budget negotiations and remains committed to ensuring that public health funding, safety net programs and funding for health care reform implementation are fully protected.