APA Legislative Day in Olympia, Wash. Photo credits: Nick Wong

February 4, 2010 marked yet another APA Legislative Day in the State’s capital. Riding with the community members of the International Community Health Services (ICHS), the primary concern amongst ICHS as well as many other local organizations is the upcoming reforms in healthcare.These proposed budget cuts will dramatically affect the local API community, especially the elderly, low-income demographics residing in King County.

Medical Interpretation Services: Slated for total elimination

Approximately 400,000 immigrants require translation services. Lack of interpretation can complicate a doctor’s ability to make accurate diagnosis, and complicates patients’ understanding instructions and follow-up care. The absence of these services could severely put the healthcare of the immigrant elderly at risk and could lead to rising emergency room costs.

Basic Health Plan: Slated for total elimination

The Basic Health Plan (BHP) currently offers affordable health coverage for working adults who cannot afford or are not offered health insurance through their employers. Small business and non-citizens rely on BHP as their health care coverage. But in 2009 BHP was reduced by 43 percent. Elimination of this program leaves newly immigrant populations susceptible to the rising costs in healthcare.

Medicaid Adult Dental: Slated for total elimination

Dental care is an overlooked aspect of healthcare and Seattle King Co. Public health found that the APA population has the worst dental health in King Co. Infections in the mouth can spread and cause life-threatening infections to other parts of the body, which could result in life-threatening hospitalization.

Senior Citizen Service Act Funding: Many programs under this funding is slated for reduction or elimination

Asian and Pacific Islander (API) elders make up 11 percent of those aged 60 and over in King County. The $7 million budget cuts would reduce services such as 38 percent of the Multilingual and Multicultural Information and Assistance Program provided by Chinese Information and Service Center and over 30 percent by the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. Eliminating Client Specific Funding cuts emergency financial and medical assistance to 150-200 API low-income elders in King County.

Long Term Care: Many programs are slated for elimination or reductions

This program provides critical support services for seniors and people with disabilities when their families cannot afford to care for them. The Governor has proposed cutting home care for seniors and people with disabilities. This program gives care to the terminally ill by providing emotional and physical support and elimination of the program will result in large cuts in dental, vision and hearing coverage for 207,000 seniors.

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