Indian-American groups have divergent views about the new Republican healthcare bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4th. Seema Mehra, Trump’s administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, praised the GOP bill, even as Democratic Congressman Ami Bera, of California, one of the 10 physicians, 8 of them Republicans, in the U.S. House,, lashed out at it warning millions might lose healthcare. The GOP bill passed by a slim margin of 4 votes.
Bera said the American Health Care Act, that expects to keep President Trump’s top campaign promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, leaves “millions of hardworking Americans “worrying about whether they will be able to stay on their health care plans. It also eliminates protections for pre-existing conditions, he said.
“We cannot play politics with people’s lives, and what happened today put political goals ahead of the lives of hardworking Americans.,” Bera said. All four Indian-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill voted against the Republican bill.
Meanwhile, Mehra, a 20-year veteran in the healthcare industry, called it a “historic” day as the country moves “toward patient-centered healthcare instead of government-centered healthcare.”
“I have worked in the field of Medicaid for 20 years and have heard from many mothers like myself who have shared their struggles and their hopes for a more affordable, more sustainable healthcare system,” Mehra said in a statement May 4 after the passing of the bill in the House. “It is important that our most vulnerable citizens, the aged, the infirm, the blind and the disabled have more choices, greater access and peace of mind when it comes to their healthcare,” she added. “The bill that was passed today is a great first step achieving this goal,” Mehra claimed.
The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin however, has taken a measured stand calling on Congress to “Amend not end” the existing system under Obamacare. The AAPI, during its Legislative Day May 3, on Capitol Hill, urged lawmakers to increase the number of residency slots, foreseeing a shortage of doctors in the future; reforming the Stark law relating to physician referrals for Medicare and Medicaid patients; and allowing the selling of insurance across state lines.
The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, the nation’s only pan-Asian children and families advocacy organization, expressed its deep disappointment by the House that voted 217-213 to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The repeal bill, known as the American Health Care Act, sets out to dismantle major provisions of the ACA including consumer protections for those with pre-existing conditions; it dramatically cuts Medicaid; and it reduces financial assistance available. This repeal bill now goes to the Senate. If passed and signed by President Trump, 2.7 million New Yorkers will stand to lose coverage including over 1.6 million individuals living in NYC’s 5 boroughs.
“We’re dismayed by the House’s repeal vote. Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have witnessed a significant drop in the number of uninsured Asian Pacific Americans (APAs). The uninsurance rate among APAs has been slashed in half nationally,” said Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director.
“As a navigator agency, we have helped hundreds of individuals and families enroll in health insurance and linked them to an array of health resources because of the ACA. In New York, Asian Pacific Americans account for roughly 20% of Medicaid, over 25% of Essential Plan, and 10% of Child Health Plus enrollees. Many Asian Pacific Americans are also solo-preneurs and small business owners who, before the ACA, would not be able to access affordable coverage for themselves and their employees. The ACA continues to be an essential lifeline for our children and families,” said Noilyn Abesamis-Mendoza, Director of Policy.
“The work to protect our health care is not over. We will advocate with the Senate to ensure that the ACA is upheld. We will stand together with our partners to continue fighting so that all communities have opportunities to live healthy and productive lives and have access to quality and affordable health care,” Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director.
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, released the following statement regarding the House of Representatives vote on the American Health Care Act: “The House of Representatives voted today to take a critical step forward in reforming our health care system by approving the American Health Care Act. We’ve continually urged Congress to adopt changes to our health care system that would benefit AAHOA’s 16,500 members and their 600,000 employees nationwide. We support provisions that would simplify employer reporting requirements, restore the definition of full-time employee and alleviate complex tax policies. While not perfect, the American Health Care Act is a step in the right direction. We’ll continue to speak to Congress about more reforms that will lower costs for employers and workers alike while leading to greater and more affordable coverage.”
Meanwhile, the nation’s premier medical body, the American Medical Association, strongly opposed the bill saying if it were to become law, “millions of Americans would lose health insurance coverage, and the safety net provided by Medicaid would be severely eroded.” It also criticized “Last-minute changes” to the bill allowing states to apply for waivers from critical consumer protections under current law and providing additional funding for high-risk pools and reinsurance mechanisms, saying those changes “failed to remedy the fundamental flaws of the bill.” Six other specialty medical associations also issued a statement against the bill.