WASHINGTON – Following is a statement by Kathy Ko Chin, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum president and CEO, in response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address.
“Instead of presenting a fresh agenda for the second half of his term, President Trump’s remarks signal an interest to further divide our nation by dismantling our health care and splitting our country based on the color of our skin, where we come from, and how much money we make. In his first two years in office, the President has sought to undermine the Affordable Care Act through regulation and lawsuits, to re-write civil rights protections, and to attack the foundation of public coverage through Medicaid, just on health care alone.
For over 25 years, APIAHF has worked to improve HIV/AIDS education and outreach efforts all across the country and across the Pacific, working with public health officials and community-based partners. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs) have some of the lowest testing rates, and only one in four AAs and NHPIs living with HIV is aware of their status.
President Trump stated the importance of lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs and protecting patients with pre-existing conditions. He also expressed a goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic within 10 years. Yet the Administration’s actions and proposals already run counter to these ambitious goals. The Administration’s position in Texas v. U.S. challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act would classify HIV/AIDS as a pre-existing condition that could be exempted from health insurance coverage. This could discourage people from getting tested for HIV and would make it more difficult for the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. to access affordable treatment.
Similar, by undermining core protections and access in Medicaid – which covers 40% of those with HIV who are receiving care – the Administration’s own policies seek to gut coverage for those who are most vulnerable. Further, the announcement comes after agency officials have stripped LBGTQ references from federal websites and continued to define transgender civil rights protections out of existence.
The President’s actions on health care, immigration, and civil rights are directly opposite of what ‘Choosing Greatness’ truly means. At APIAHF, we believe that health is a human right that should be accessible to all. President Trump’s proposal is not a replacement for the health care protections guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, uninsured rates have decreased by half for Asian Americans and by nearly half for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, though that trend is slowing as a result of the Administration’s hostile actions toward the law.
The Administration’s numerous efforts attacking immigrant families further the agenda of division. For example, the recent public charge proposal could prevent immigrants who are poor, have less education, or a serious health condition from reuniting with family. It would further stigmatize and threaten the ability of immigrants and their families from accessing needed health services and has already had a chilling impact.
‘Choosing Greatness’ should not be about having another slogan, but instead focus on doing what’s best for the people in the country. This includes taking action to preserve affordable health care for all.”
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