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Ethnic Health Leaders Applaud Supreme Court Ruling on Health Reform Law

For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ethnic Health Leaders Applaud Supreme Court Ruling on Health Reform Law

Nation’s Highest Court Upholds Affordable Care Act, Protecting Reform Efforts that Will Improve the Health of Communities of Color

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Supreme Court today ruled to uphold the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and leaders of California’s four major ethnic groups and multicultural network were quick to applaud the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts gave the majority opinion, which declared the entire law constitutional, including the Medicaid expansion and the individual mandate, which survived as a tax. This decision reaffirms the nation’s commitment to improving our health care system, and preserves a law that has already expanded health coverage for millions of Californians including low-income adults, children under the age of 26, and patients with preexisting conditions. Many low-income communities of color—who comprise close to three-quarters of the uninsured in CA—have already begun to benefit from the ACA and now efforts to expand access to health care in these communities can continue to gain momentum.

“We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a law that has already had such a positive impact on our communities,” said Ellen Wu, Executive Director of the California PanEthnic Health Network. “California has already taken critical steps to secure and expand access to health care for communities of color in California through the establishment of the Health Benefit Exchange and the enrollment of over 400,000 low-income Californians—over two-thirds from communities of color—into the Low-Income Health Programs (LIHPs). We look forward to continuing to implement Medi-Cal expansion and other provisions of the ACA that will reduce disparities throughout the state.”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision highlights the imperative of the mission that the ACA was designed to accomplish,” said James Allen Crouch, Executive Director of the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB). “The American Indian provisions of the ACA are making it possible for us to provide culturally appropriate services to our communities, and with today’s ruling, we can be confident that our efforts will lead to real change. We will continue working with community members and key decision makers as part of CRIHB’s efforts to establish a LIHP program for our tribal communities and ensure successful implementation of some of the key improvements to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (ICHIA).”

“The Supreme Court’s decision today will have a tremendous impact throughout the country, most notably for communities of color here in California,” said B. Darcel Lee, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network. “The law has accomplished so much already, including increasing access to free preventive services such as annual wellness exams and tobacco cessation programs, which help bring down health care costs for the state while significantly reducing health disparities in our communities. We must continue to invest in prevention if we are to create a healthier California.”

“The ACA remains the first real tangible health reform in decades, and today’s ruling was a great victory for vulnerable communities,” said Kathy Lim Ko, President and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. “California is moving ahead with ACA implementation, and contemplating making significant improvements in the way race, ethnicity, and primary language data are collected and reported in health settings. This data is essential to better understanding and addressing the unique health needs of California’s diverse population, and especially those of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.”

“With the legal challenges out of the way, we can look toward 2014 with renewed energy,” said Monica Blanco-Etheridge, Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. “The results of the first two years speak for themselves: 10,000 Californians denied coverage due to preexisting conditions now have coverage; 350,000 seniors got help in paying for their prescription drugs; and 435,000 young adults are insured through their parents’ coverage. With our Latino population growing rapidly, we must continue to educate our communities about the availability of these and other coverage options, and today’s ruling enables us to do so."

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The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

The California Black Health Network (CBHN) advocates for policies and programs that will improve the health status of people of African descent in California.

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) works to eliminate health disparities by advocating for public policies and sufficient resources to address the health needs of communities of color.

The California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB), Inc. is devoted to the needs and interests of the Indians of Rural California.

The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) is committed to initiating and advancing policies that will increase access to health services and build healthy Latino communities in California.