Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon May 23, 2013 at 2:57 PM EDT
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. This community comprises many diverse populations with respect to educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, linguistic characteristics, and unique cultural traditions from their countries of origin. The vibrant cultures represented have different styles and patterns of communication for giving and receiving information. Many are not able to achieve their full health potential as disparities in health care persist, specifically as it pertains to the availability of language assistance services and, historically, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been less likely to have health insurance than the population as a whole.
May is “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” and there is no better time to talk about advancing health equity for all. The Affordable Care Act provides one of the most important levers by which we can advance that vision. The law will remove obstacles to care that many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders historically have faced and ensure that they will have better access to stable, affordable health insurance and high quality health care suited to their needs.
Access to high quality health care. The Affordable Care Act expands access to preventive care and can help reduce health disparities for Asian American and Pacific Islanders by helping to prevent many diseases that have a disproportionate impact on this group. Recommended preventive services covered without cost-sharing under the health care law include well-child visits, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, Pap smears and mammograms for women and flu shots for children and adults. An estimated 2.7 million AAPI with private insurance currently have access to expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing because of the health care law. Further, the nearly one million elderly and disabled Asian American and Pacific Islanders who receive coverage from Medicare also have access to an expanded list of preventive services with no cost-sharing including diabetes and colorectal cancer screening and bone mass measurement. In addition, young Asian American and Pacific Islander adults under age 26 who would have been uninsured now have coverage under their parent’s employer-sponsored or individually purchased health plan. This means that more than 97,000 Asian Americans have gained coverage.
Culturally competent health care, including communication in a language that individuals understand. Nearly 61 million people speak a language other than English at home. Language barriers impact the ability of individuals to access health care and human services. Individuals with limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English are less likely to have a regular source of primary care. Language assistance services help provide meaningful access to quality health care. The health care law expands initiatives to increase diversity in the health care professions and improve cultural competency of health care providers.
Ending insurance discrimination. In the past, insurance companies could deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes. This discrimination is no longer allowed, and beginning in 2014, insurers are banned from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition. This is important because, for example, in Hawaii, adult Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have high rates of diabetes.
Secure health information. As the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that ensures that the privacy practices of several million heath care providers, plans, and clearinghouses adhere to federal health information and privacy laws, my office, the Office for Civil Rights, works tirelessly to enforce the laws which safeguard the privacy and security of health information. Individuals have rights over their health information, including the right to get a copy of their medical record, make sure it’s correct and know who has seen it. Studies have shown that consumers pay more attention to and become more engaged in their health care when they have access to their own medical information. The Office for Civil Rights will continue its outreach efforts to inform consumers about their privacy rights.
Increased access, equity of care and patient confidence are major drivers in reducing disparities in all communities, including the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Visit us to learn more about the Office for Civil Rights and our work to help protect individuals from discrimination and ensure the privacy of health information.
The Health Care Law and You is a presentation tool developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to educate community members about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. This resource has been translated into the following languages: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Hindi, Bengali, Hmong, Khmer, Laotian, Samoan and Tongan.
The Enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (the Enhanced National CLAS Standards) are intended to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health care disparities by providing a blueprint for individuals and health and health care organizations to implement culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its 2013 Language Access Plan ensuring access to the Department’s programs and activities to people with limited English proficiency (LEP).
Juliet K. Choi is Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
- Posted byon May 22, 2013 at 6:08 PM EDT
Here at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, we are committed to supporting American jobs through exports and helping American businesses reach the 95 percent of the world’s customers who live overseas.
Some 40 percent of our financing goes to one of the world’s most dynamic export markets – Asia. In fact, it’s the largest single market for our Bank’s financing. At the Bank, we’re keenly aware of Asia’s growth potential and its crucial importance for supporting American jobs – and committed to providing the necessary financing.
That is just one of the many reasons why I took part in the “Doing Business in Asia” forum at the White House earlier this week, attended by more than 80 U.S. executives currently doing business or interested exporting to that region. These executives heard Administration officials discuss President Obama’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and how U.S. economic leadership in the region is a critical component of the rebalance. Representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Department of State and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office spoke about the record level of $2.2 trillion in annual exports achieved under the President’s National Export Initiative.
They described how agencies are working together to help U.S. exporters expand to international markets through market information, advocacy, and programs that connect US companies with in-country resources.
Representing the Bank, I described financing programs that decrease risk of exporting and facilitate financing to “level the playing field” so the price of the U.S. export and financing packages are cost competitive – complementing programs by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development agency
We showcased financing programs tailored for small exporters typically shut out by commercial lenders. These programs offer fixed-term interest rates that are otherwise accessible only to the world’s largest corporations.
There was a lot of excitement about negotiations underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations. This high-standard agreement will open new markets and allow goods and services to flow more seamlessly across borders.
Another innovative program discussed was USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures which supports breakthrough solutions to the world’s most difficult development challenges.
It was an exciting day and the beginning, I believe, of new progress in U.S. exports that will put even more Americans back to work. Clearly, our nation’s future is in exports. And Asia is one of the most promising regions for those exports, and we’re proud to help support American businesses reaching those markets.
Pat Loui is a Member of the Board of Directors at the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
- Posted byon May 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM EDT
Nearly everyone in America has an immigration story to share. Our voices are louder when we speak together, so please share your stories and highlight the work that’s being done in your communities. Together we can achieve commonsense immigration reform.
Dr. Tung Thanh Nguyen is a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Dr. Nguyen is also a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
- Posted byon May 13, 2013 at 1:13 PM EDT
On Thursday of last week, nearly 400 Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) from all walks of life gathered at the Department of the Interior for the White House Forum on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, where we discussed ways the Department, especially the National Park Service, can better tell the story of the AAPI experience in America and the contributions this vibrant community has made to our country and its culture.
As a first generation Korean-American, the forum was especially meaningful for me. My parents left Korea in the aftermath of the Korean War. They came to this country with $200 in their pockets and three sets of clothes each. Even with no relatives or friends to greet them and little knowledge of English my parents nevertheless harbored big dreams. They believed that with hard work, a commitment to education, and playing by the rules, they and their children would prosper. And because of their perseverance and courage, we did. I know they are proud that their daughter is now serving as an official in the Obama Administration.
This isn’t just the story of my parents, or the story of Asian Americans, however: it is the story of America. This is why it so important that the National Park Service, which is our nation’s story teller, explores ways to commemorate and interpret the journey of the millions of AAPI pioneers who came to these shores and the role they had in building America.
During the forum, our new secretary, Sally Jewell, pledged her support for the AAPI Theme Study. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long been leaders in every aspect of our social fabric – in government, business, science, medicine, the arts, education and our armed forces,” Secretary Jewell said. “From Angel Island where more than one million Asian immigrants arrived on these shores, to the Chinese immigrants who helped build the railroads across the country, to the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, these stories are all important threads in the great American tapestry.”
AAPI leaders from across the country discussed our community’s progress, and how our stories really constitute the fabric of the larger American story. We also discussed National Park Service’s efforts, over the coming months, to guide the theme study scholars in developing narratives that will connect tangible places to so many intangible stories. The Service’s National Historic Landmark program will use the theme study to guide future nominations of National Historic Landmarks and National Register properties.
It was a proud day for me to see so many distinguished AAPI leaders coming together to honor those who went before us and to ensure their story is told for future generations.
Rhea S. Suh is the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
- Posted byon May 13, 2013 at 9:17 AM EDT
Last week, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives of various economic agencies of the U.S. Government. The discussion focused on what agencies can do to continue to support the economic development of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
With 1.5 million AAPI-owned businesses in the United States, having AAPI-owned businesses engaged in international trade can help contribute to the overall economy. Many AAPI-owned businesses have strong ties across Asia and are in a prime position to help export goods, create jobs here at home and support the President’s National Export Initiative to double exports by 2015.
The Initiative emphasized the importance of fostering economic linkages between AAPI-owned businesses in supporting the Administration’s rebalancing efforts across the Asia-Pacific region and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Agency representatives expressed their interest in working closely with the Initiative to co-host forums to introduce the community to the President’s economic agenda as well as display the various federal resources available to AAPI-owned businesses to start and expand their businesses globally.
Adil Kabani is the Economic Policy Advisor with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Posted byon May 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM EDT
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted a briefing today on mental health issues and suicide prevention for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. As May is both AAPI Heritage Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month, it was a timely occasion to bring these issues to the forefront. The event convened government officials, community leaders, students and health care advocates for a discussion about the Obama Administration’s efforts to prevent suicide and address mental health issues within the AAPI community.
Mental health concerns are not prominently or routinely addressed in AAPI communities, however, these issues are primary contributors to overall health and well-being. National studies show that the prevalence rates for mental health conditions are generally the same or slightly less for AAPIs compared to the general population. However, the burden of mental health conditions for AAPI families and communities is often greater due to limited access and engagement in mental health services, lower rates of treatment and poorer quality care leading to worse outcomes. AAPI families are often reluctant to seek care due to the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions, difficulties in finding appropriate services and lack of understanding of both the mental health condition and the complex service system. Higher rates of uninsurance also impede attempts to access mental health treatment.
The briefing also highlighted AAPI-serving community mental health programs, suicide prevention initiatives such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and government resources. Also featured was the California Reducing Disparities Project Asian Pacific Islander report “In Our Own Words,” which outlined effective strategies for reducing AAPI behavioral health disparities and provided specific program examples.
During this month of celebration of the AAPI community, this event was a fitting opportunity to recognize and re-dedicate ourselves to the ongoing work to increase awareness of mental health, address disparities and improve the wellbeing of AAPIs across the nation. Please visit the Office of Behavioral Health Equity and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website to learn more about mental health and substance use among AAPIs, and to access a new data spotlight on AAPIs and suicide.
Larke N. Huang, Ph.D. is the Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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