March 1, 2013

WASHINGTON—Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued the following statement in response to the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration that go into effect Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

“It is very unfortunate for our nation that our Congressional leaders—even after Friday’s last-minute efforts by the White House to help negotiate a deal—could not devise a balanced budget deficit plan in time to avert the sequester. Sequestration, which mandates $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years, with $85 billion coming in the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, will now leave hundreds of thousands of hardworking families in economic turmoil and put many of the health and economic advances of recent years in jeopardy.

Many of the families—some of whom live in low-income communities—that will be hit hardest by this latest fiscal debacle are Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, who report that they have yet to recover from the recession.
Across the country in rural communities, efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health and health care disparities will be greatly impacted by the sequester. Health programs that address prevention and chronic diseases and tools to permanently eradicate these disparities and ensure health equity for everyone are sure to suffer.

During this bleak fiscal period, we could also see steps to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stall and greatly harm community health programs, such as the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, the best tool the nation has to fight chronic diseases and improve the nation’s health, which is expected to be slashed by 7.6 percent or $76 million. Massive cuts to federal health initiatives and cuts to critical medical research could put many programs at risk and set health advances back for many generations.
Although funding for Medicaid, health care reform and other safety net programs are largely protected under the sequester, these initiatives are likely targets for the chopping block as lawmakers work on permanent budget solutions to stabilize the weakened economy.

APIAHF calls on Congress and the administration to remedy this economic setback expeditiously and to prioritize vitally needed health programs from budget cuts. APIAHF will continue its efforts to monitor fiscal and budget negotiations and demand that public health funding, safety net programs and health care reform implementation funds are fully protected.”