January 5, 2022
Assembly Member Jim Wood, Chair and Members
Assembly Health Committee
RE: AB 1400 (Kalra, Lee, Santiago) – SUPPORT
Dear Chair Wood and Committee Members,
The Asian American community is experiencing an upsurge in hate crimes due to scapegoating of Chinese people as being the cause of the pandemic. Racist violence is not a new thing for Asian Americans as discrimination has been a historical condition – not just on the streets, but through systemic racism, including disparities in healthcare.
In 2018, 25 percent of Korean Americans and 20 percent of Vietnamese Americans had no health coverage. The Affordable Care Act helped alleviate those numbers, but no updates have been conducted after millions lost their jobs and insurance during the pandemic. Asian American data research is lacking and facts, such as 69% of the Thai American community being uninsured, are not well known.
In 2019, the leading cause of death among Asian Americans aged 15-24 was suicide. To this day, suicide is still among the top causes of death for young Asian Americans. In the U.S., this is true for no other racial group in the same age range. The mental healthcare system is inadequate and inaccessible to many.
Last year, over 80 Japanese American seniors in a Los Angeles intermediate care facility were evicted from their home because the corporate owner wanted to convert it to market-rate apartments. Even against the pleas of 10 licensed physicians, the CA government did not keep them safe during the pandemic. No other intermediate care facilities in the U.S. have the same level of Japanese-speaking staff and culturally-appropriate services.
Assembly Bill 1400 would provide groups facing healthcare disparities the help they need. The bill would create a single payer healthcare system that would cover all Californians regardless of citizenship, age, income, or employment status.
Under AB 1400, young people can access mental health services and elders can receive bilingual and bi-cultural healthcare. Non-English speaking people can have difficulty explaining their problems to medical staff, especially if they’re under duress. Doctors and nurses who only know a Western viewpoint, may not know how to communicate with patients of different cultures.
Hate crime victims and their families will no longer need to launch GoFundMe pages to pay for medical treatment due to lack of health coverage.
California has 85 percent of Democratic voters who support a single payer system and 61 percent of voters of various political views support it. The public support for AB1400 is there because the need exists. Our current governor was elected partially because he pledged to support single-payer reform. To have 3.2 million Californians without healthcare insurance in our wealthy state is a travesty.
AB1400 will be the safety net for our most vulnerable communities who are suffering in silence due to healthcare racism and inequality. This is why members of the Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) back this bill and urge you to vote “Aye” for AB 1400, which will save many lives.
Thank you for your service.
Progressive Asian Network for Action