Why dismantle the Affordable Care Act when it's working for women of color?
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A few years ago, I got a scary phone call from my family in South Korea.

My father was concerned that doctors found a lump in my mother’s breast during a routine annual check-up.

Thankfully it was benign.

My mother is a citizen of South Korea where she gets free preventative care, including a mammogram. According to the American College of Radiology, mammograms have helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the United States by nearly 40 percent since 1990.

And thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in the U.S. also have the same access to preventative care right now.

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Under the ACA, over two million AAPI women and gender nonconforming people gained health insurance coverage. In the majority of states, more than 80 percent of women of color between 18-64 years of age are now insured.

 

Millions of AAPI LGBTQ women and gender nonconforming people have been able to benefit from the ACA’s tax credit structure and the Medicaid Expansion.

All of our communities rely on the ACA’s public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation’s public health infrastructure. For example, health centers like Planned Parenthood give AAPI women and gender nonconforming people a safe, nonjudgmental place to seek health care.

Our families rely on the promises of the ACA and the bills that have been introduced to support its growth.

Before the ACA, the prohibitive cost of health insurance left many immigrant families uninsured and vulnerable. Worse, many immigrant women were charged even more, simply because they were women.

Before the ACA — that’s the world to which Senate Republicans want to return with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

After weeks of secret deals made behind closed doors, Senate Republicans want to pass major legislation to repeal the ACA and take away healthcare from millions of vulnerable people.

Under the ACA, access to health insurance was expanded to immigrants who are considered “lawfully present.”

If passed, BCRA will take us back in time to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act’s definitions for “qualified aliens.”

The 1996 definition limited access to healthcare to only three groups of immigrants. This means access to health insurance would be restricted even from some documented immigrants, who would no longer be able to purchase insurance on state exchanges.

In states where these exchanges are the only public marketplace in which to buy health insurance, that means almost all immigrants would be barred from coverage.

The BCRA threatens and endanger the lives of immigrants who rely on health insurance.

Under the BCRA, AAPI women and gender nonconforming people would continue to be subject to draconian measures that limit our access to healthcare, such as the five-year ban on immigrants’ access to Medicaid.

Increasing premiums, higher cost sharing, and soaring penalties will hit AAPI women and gender nonconforming people harder because they already earn less due to pervasive racial and gender inequalities.

We already know that while some AAPI ethnic groups experience smaller pay disparities, others experience the largest pay gaps overall.

For Bhutanese American women who are on average earning 38 cents for every dollar White, non-Hispanic men make, these increasing costs are inarguably the difference between having health insurance or having to go uninsured.

If the BCRA is allowed to pass, pay gaps will determine the life or death of AAPI women and gender nonconforming people again in the United States.

Instead of health, support systems, or quality of care, we will see a strengthening of a system where money determines who lives and who dies.

Sung Yeon Choimorrow is the executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.