For Immediate Release
January 7, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) president and CEO Kathy Lim Ko today spoke out against efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal health care reform legislation that was signed into law last year.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will bring affordable health coverage to at least thirty million more people in the United States. Nationally, more than one in five of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs) are uninsured and even more are underinsured. More than one in three Korean Americans is uninsured, and amongst Vietnamese Americans and Indian Americans, almost one in five lack health coverage.

“Health care reform gives our children, families, and communities the freedom from worrying about losing their insurance or being denied health care because of pre-existing conditions,” said APIAHF president and CEO Kathy Lim Ko. “We can’t let the new leadership in Congress return us to the days when insurance companies were free to do whatever they want with no accountability, such as denying coverage to children with asthma and other pre-existing conditions, or doubling premiums and imposing higher costs on families and small businesses.”

Health care reform gives small businesses the ability to compete with large employers by providing small business tax credits to make employee health coverage more affordable, and by increasing purchasing power through competitive private health insurance exchanges. In 2007 there were 1.6 million Asian American-owned businesses, generating more than $500 billion in revenues and employing 2.9 million people.

“Almost 60 percent of Asian Americans receive health care coverage through their employers and the last thing we should be doing is weakening the ability of small business owners to provide quality health care to their employees,” said Ko. “We must not place the interests of insurance companies ahead of small businesses, our communities, and our families. When insurance companies are free to pursue profit without accountability, people have fewer choices, fewer options, and little recourse. We can’t let that happen.”

AAs and NHPIs have high rates of certain preventable diseases. For example, liver cancer rates for Vietnamese men are 13 times higher than among Caucasian males, and overall cancer deaths are increasing at a faster rate in AA and NHPI communities than in any other ethnic or racial group.

“Doctors, nurses, patients, businesses, hospitals, health care providers, community groups, and policymakers came together last year to modernize our system and we need to move forward not backward. We urge the new leadership in Congress to refocus its efforts on job creation, growing our economy and creating policies that improve access to opportunity,” said Ko. “We look forward to working with the new Congress to find policy solutions that will protect and improve the health and well-being of our children, families, and communities.”

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.