For Immediate Release
March 29, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court concluded oral arguments yesterday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), focusing on whether the individual mandate – the requirement that nearly all persons purchase health insurance – can be separated, or “severed,” from the law if the mandate is unconstitutional. The “severability issue” is significant because the Supreme Court can rule one of three ways: sever the mandate from all sections of the law, sever the mandate and other insurance reforms from the rest of the law, or strike down the entire law.

“We believe the Affordable Care Act is a national solution to a national problem, and is constitutional as a whole,” said Kathy Lim Ko, APIAHF president and CEO. “The ACA is a landmark civil rights law that provides critical investments for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. Congress enacted the ACA to improve our nation’s overall health status and address the problems of uninsurance, lack of quality health care, barriers to accessing routine preventive care and unfair insurance company practices – problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, women and other underserved populations.”

Last month, APIAHF filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court defending the ACA for this week’s arguments. APIAHF’s brief was the largest representation of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court on any case, and the only brief before the Supreme Court that specifically addressed the diverse health and health care needs of AA and NHPI communities. The brief argues that Congress intended for the ACA to overhaul the nation’s health care system and included provisions that would address barriers to care for communities of color. More specifically, APIAHF’s brief places AA and NHPI health and health care needs in this context and provides the Supreme Court with real-world stories from AA and NHPI-serving community-based organizations from around the country.

“Our brief demonstrates what’s at stake for all communities and the importance of health reform,” said Priscilla Huang, APIAHF policy director. “The ACA is one of our nation’s most significant investments in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities and expanding access to quality care. Already 2.5 million young adults – including 97,000 Asian Americans – have gained access to affordable health insurance and 2.7 million Asian Americans have been able to access preventive care, at no additional cost. In the next two years, an additional 30 million Americans will gain access to coverage thanks to the ACA.”

The Supreme Court is expected to render a final decision on the law this summer.

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.