Aggregated data covers up the gross inequalities faced by specific demographics within the broad and diverse umbrella category of “Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.” 20% of nurses in CA are Filipinx and they’ve been hit hard by the for-profit motivated “just in time” policies in hospitals. These greedy policies have led to many unnecessary deaths as front-line COVID-19 nurses haven’t been provided adequate personal protection equipment to contend with the virus. Nationally, while 4 percent of registered nurses nationwide are Pinay, they account for about 25 percent of Covid-19 deaths among registered nurses.
May 1, 2021: Cheng-Sim Lim speaks on behalf of PANA and Healthcare for All Los Angeles outside the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) in Boyle Heights, urging support for both AB 279 and AB 1400.
Hello everyone! My name is Cheng-Sim Lim and I’m here on behalf of PANA-Progressive Asian network for Action – and Healthcare for All Los Angeles to join voices with all of you, to say loud and clear: SAVE OUR SENIORS!
History of Discrimination
When they were young, our Japanese American elders at Sakua suffered a grave injustice. They were incarcerated during World War II for being of Japanese descent
Today, in their 80s and 90s, they face another injustice. They face eviction – in the middle of a pandemic – because Pacifica, the company that owns Sakura, wants to convert the care facility into apartments.
Sakura has thankfully been COVID-free. But, apart from Sakura, there is no other COVID-safe facility in LA County that offers Japanese bilingual, bi-cultural services AND accepts Medi-Cal.
The elders here fear Pacifica wants to transfer them to another facility it owns, Kei-Ai, which the LA Times has identified as the deadliest nursing home in California. There have been over 100 resident deaths at Kei-Ai due to COVID.
I’m an immigrant and I bet any of you here, who are from first or second generation immigrant families, will understand this: Being able to communicate in one’s primary language – Japanese in this case, or be it Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Armenian, etc. – and being in a culturally welcoming environment, is important to the well-being of our elders.
If our elders cannot communicate with nursing staff, they will be cut off from receiving the care they need. And if they are not getting the foods and activities they enjoy, they are more likely to become depressed and shut down, causing their health to decline precipitously.
This is the “no choice” our Japanese American elders at Sakura face: Move to a facility where they won’t have culturally sensitive care, and risk their health and lives. Or, move to the deadliest COVID nursing care facility in California, and risk their health and lives.
This is the kind of cruelty built into the current system where long-term care is run as a profit-making business. This is corporate violence whose victims are predominantly low-income, BIPOC seniors on Medi-Cal, and in the case of Sakura, anti-Asian violence.
Corporate Anti-Asian Violence
In the same way that Asian Americans are mounting community self-defense against thugs who target and attack Asian American seniors walking in the neighborhood, we must mount self-defense against corporate thugs, so all our seniors can grow old with love and dignity.
What does this self-defense involve? The first and necessary step: we must push for AB 279 to pass in the State Legislature to stop Pacifica and any other nursing home operator from cutting services and transferring seniors during COVID. Shout-out to Assembly Member Miguel Santiago for co-introducing this bill in the State Assembly.
But what happens after COVID? AB 279 is a stop gap measure that ends when the COVID emergency is over. We need a lasting solution beyond AB 279 that removes the ability for any company to profit out of denying care to our seniors. And that lasting solution, I want to suggest to you, is CalCare AB 1400. Shout-out again to Assembly Member Santiago because he is a joint author of the bill.
“CalCare / AB 1400” – A Healthcare Reform Bill That Addresses Inequality in Public Health
CalCare is the most powerful elder self-defense tool out there. CalCare is like Medicare except super charged, super improved and expanded. CalCare will cover long-term care.
And if seniors want to receive care in their homes, CalCare will cover that too. CalCare provides multilingual, culturally sensitive care for anyone who needs it. In fact, CalCare will cover all medically necessary care, including in addition to long-term care, dental, vision, hearing, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and prescription drugs. Plus CalCare will expand all this wonderful health coverage to all the residents of California. Everybody will be protected, nobody will be left out.
But wait, there’s more! CalCare means we’ll pay a big fat zero in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. And we can all go to any doctor or hospital we choose. There will be no more surprise bills because we went to an emergency room in a hospital that is out-of-network. Everybody will be in network, nobody will be out.
CalCare does all this and saves money too – anywhere from 37 to 50 billion dollars per year in healthcare spending in California, depending on the study.
So Assembly Member Santiago. We urge you to fight hard for AB 279 along with CalCare AB 1400 in the State Assembly. And we will fight hard right there with you.
Because our elders deserve to live with love and dignity;
Because human lives matter over corporate profit;
Because we will not allow anti-Asian violence whether it stems from hate or Pacifica’s greed.
We will have healthcare for all instead of insurance for some.
We support AB-1400 for its acknowledgement of the need for culturally, linguistically, and structurally competent care. This is a vital part of the legislation, to sensitively provide care to people of color. Translation services, prescribed diets, and other such components of care should be culturally competent to meet the physical and mental health needs of our diverse communities. Implementing a comprehensive single payer healthcare plan in California, the most diverse state in the nation, is a statement of equality. For these and many other reasons, we look forward to working with the authors in advancing AB-1400 and the effort to win a “single-payer” health care system in California.
Download the PANA Support letter for AB 1400 HERE.
“Save Our Seniors (SOS) is an all-volunteer network of individuals and organizations that is working to secure the continuation of bilingual and bi-cultural care and services for seniors residing at the facilities formerly known as Keiro Nursing and Retirement homes, a Japanese American institution for nearly fifty years. To this day, due to inequalities in the U.S. public health system, no other such facilities exist. Because of this context, the lives of the remaining residents are endangered by the profit objectives of the owners of these facilities.”
PANA members have been playing a key role in this fight as members of the SOS Network. PANA members have helped to organize and mobilize for mass events, assisted with social media promotion and are working to win support for AB 279, which would help stop evicitions of seniors during the pandemic. PANA views this fight at part of the larger effort to win equality in healthcare and to win Medicare-for-All in CA, such as by winning AB 1400.