February 24, 2015

WASHINGTON–Today, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) held a media briefing call that focused on the impact of the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs).

“This case goes to the very heart of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its effects cannot be understated,” said Iyanrick John, APIAHF senior policy analyst. “The majority of people getting coverage are doing so with the help of tax credits though the federal Marketplace. If the Supreme Court removes the tax credits from the federal Marketplace, they do so at the risk of undermining the very purpose and intent of the law – to provide affordable health insurance to people across the country.”

On March 4, the Court will consider the question of whether the ACA’s tax credits are limited only to state-run health insurance Marketplaces. Doing so would erode coverage expansions for AAs and NHPIs in up to 37 states relying on the federally-run health insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov). This includes three of the five states with the largest uninsured and ACA eligible AA and NHPI populations: Texas, Florida and New Jersey. Furthermore, removing tax credits in these states could likely increase health insurance costs overall, including costs for coverage in state-run Marketplaces.

APIAHF filed an amicus brief on January 28 that details stories from people who would suffer life-threatening consequences without coverage. The brief details the lack of coverage options and lingering health disparities facing AAs and NHPIs that supported the ACA’s passage. Prior to the law, nearly one in seven AAs and NHPIs were uninsured and even more were underinsured. The ACA sought to remedy that by substantially expanding access to health insurance for middle- and low-income people by providing tax credits to make them affordable. This is the express purpose of the ACA and supported by the law’s text.

APIAHF’s brief was jointly filed with the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, who together with APIAHF comprise [Action for Health Justice[(http://www.apiahf.org/healthcare4me/action-health-justice “Action for Health Justice”). APIAHF has partnered with Action for Health Justice to ensure that AAs and NHPIs realize the benefits of the new health law. Sixty-three community and health organizations also signed onto the brief.

“This case has dire consequences for the health of AAs and NHPIs nationwide, not just in the states subject to the lawsuit,” said Doreena Wong, project director, Health Access Project at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and member of Action for Health Justice. “A bad decision from the Court would result in many individuals making difficult choices that no one should have to face, such as foregoing treatment for serious health conditions or skipping meals to pay for doctor’s visits.”