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Health Care Supreme Court Case Draws in AAPI Groups

Why are AAPI groups joining a Supreme Court case on tax credits? Leaders say millions could lose their insurance without them.
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A coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights and community health organizations have filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the King v Burwell case, advocating on behalf of AAPIs that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) tax credits or subsidies should not be limited only to state-run health insurance Marketplaces, but should apply to all states, including those that use the federal Marketplace.

“Many [AAPIs] were able to have health insurance for the first time in their lives because they were able to access subsidies,” said Iyanrick John, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) Senior Policy Analyst. “But if these subsidies are taken away, millions will not have insurance again.”

Community leaders argue that the elimination of health care subsidies would be disproportionately impact AAPI communities. This is because of the large number of AAPIs who did not have health insurance or were underinsured prior to ACA, the disproportionate number of AAPIs who signed up for health insurance, and the 34 states at issue include three of the five states with the largest AAPI populations: Texas, Florida and New Jersey. Even California, which has the largest AAPI population and has its own state-based Marketplace, will likely see more expensive premiums if the premiums in other states go up.

“If these subsidies are pulled away, the brunt of it would fall primarily on middle- and low-income groups,” said John, “Many were able to get coverage in part because of the outreach we did with local community-based organizations. Our outreach was very different than outreach at the federal level. It was the in-person and in-language assistance. Many didn’t use the website or the form.”

The Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), the Association of Asian Pacific American Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, (together known as Action for Health Justice) wrote the amicus brief, with 63 community and health organizations also signing on.