Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog

  • Bringing Health Equity and the Affordable Care Act to AAPIs in New York

    With the next open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace to begin Saturday, November 15 and continuing through February 15, 2015, community leaders in Region 2 held a series of events to raise awareness among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

    On October 28, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) joined AAPI community leaders and federal partners in an invaluable dialogue on advancing health equity during the 7th Biennial Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Conference hosted by the New York University (NYU) Center for the Study of Asian American Health, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), and NYU School of Medicine. During this conference, community leaders spent the day in engaging workshops and panel discussions focused on efforts to advance health equity for AAPIs. Dr. Tung Nguyen, Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, and I spoke about WHIAAPI’s efforts to address health equity concerns for AAPI communities.

    The next day, on October 29, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and WHIAAPI’s Region 2 Regional Interagency Working Group hosted a conference on the Affordable Care Act, “Transforming Health Systems for AAPI Communities: New Options in Health Careers.” Commissioner Kathy Ko Chin emphasized that access to health care is vital to individuals and communities, and underscored the importance of sharing stories as a means of educating the AAPI community about available health care services.

    Kathy then shared the story of Bishnu, a hard-working social worker in Philadelphia who had gone years without access to consistent health care. In addition to being originally deterred from health care enrollment based on cost, Bishnu struggled to navigate the system in her native tongue. However, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a dedicated in-person assister, Bishnu received financial assistance that allowed her to afford her health care insurance. Kathy reminded the audience that Bishnu is a representative of thousands of AAPIs who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.  Kathy also underscored various ways to get involved with the Affordable Care Act, such as utilizing trusted resources, building partnerships across communities and sectors, and spreading the word to your families and friends using any and all outlets. 

    Throughout the day, federal and community leaders highlighted assistance available by health navigators -- individuals or organizations trained to help consumers as they look for health coverage -- and the expansion of health career opportunities. The conference ended with closing remarks by Commissioner Maulik Pancholy, who highlighted WHIAAPI’s youth engagement efforts, including the E3! Ambassadors Program, bullying prevention, and opportunities in public service.

    Both events in New York reaffirmed and highlighted the ongoing health care needs and struggles of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, while also highlighting new opportunities to improve health outcomes for AAPIs through the Affordable Care Act. WHIAAPI is committed to continuing to ensure that access to health care is a reality for AAPIs as open enrollment of the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on November 15.

    Christine Soyong Harley is Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

  • Challenge By Design: Working to Strengthen Government

    Twenty-four federal staff members were selected from 180 applicants to comprise the 2014-2015 cohort of the FAPAC Challenge Teams (photo by WHIAAPI).

    The challenges facing the federal government today are myriad and complex. To successfully meet them, federal government leaders must be creative and innovative; flexible and resilient; cooperative and collaborative. They must be able to work in effective teams, value individual differences, and leverage diversity to think strategically and solve concrete problems.

    To develop these skills in federal employees who have limited opportunities to train, go on details, or work on special assignments, the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) created the “Challenge Team” program. The FAPAC Challenge Team is a cost-neutral, project-oriented, innovative and experiential training-based program that gives federal employees, especially those at the GS-9 to GS-14 levels, the chance to develop leadership skills while working on significant and challenging projects, without having to leave their agencies on detail assignments or temporary duties.

    With participation from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), FAPAC launched the program with its first class in July 2013 during the WHIAAPI Federal Employee Conference.

    Following the tremendous success with the first class, FAPAC launched its second class of Challenge Team at the 2014 Federal Employee Conference and held its kickoff meeting on October 14 in Washington, DC. Twenty-four federal staff members were selected from 180 applicants to comprise the 2014-2015 cohort of the FAPAC Challenge Teams. These federal employees are divided into four teams that are responsible for tackling issues surrounding language access, capacity building, data disaggregation, and workforce diversity. They will use principles of design thinking in order to address these longstanding issues in a fresh, creative, and innovative way. Each team has representation from agencies across the federal government and hail from different regions of the country, ensuring that diverse perspectives and experiences are included in this process. 

    During a kickoff meeting, participants in the 2014 Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) Challenge Teams work together on a human-centered design activity in Washington, DC, October 14, 2014 (photo by WHIAAPI).

    The FAPAC Challenge Team program offers participants a unique opportunity to get involved on the hard-hitting issues that affect AAPI communities around the country. It is also an opportunity for federal workers to gain valuable professional development and experience to take with them as they continue advancing in their careers. Each team will spend the next six months working together to analyze issues and produce impactful solutions that federal agencies can incorporate in order to ensure that agencies are able to better deliver their services and programs. You can find out more about this program at: www.fapac.org/challengeteams.

    We look forward to working with the Challenge Team participants to help the federal government rise and meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

    Doua Thor is Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Stephen Yim is Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

  • November 20 Webinar: Collecting and Using Hepatitis B Screening Data for Research and Policy

    Please join Hep B United and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 3:00-4:00 PM EST for a webinar on Collecting and Using Hepatitis B Screening Data for Research and Policy featuring expert speakers and researchers in viral hepatitis.

    Hepatitis B affects up to two million Americans – yet the disease is often overlooked and largely underdiagnosed. Collecting more data is critical for framing policy and prioritizing hepatitis B via increased funds for research and programs. Join us for this interactive session to learn more about the process of collecting screening data and contributing to research and knowledge. Speakers will discuss best practices for data collection at community-based hepatitis B screening settings, applying for Institutional Review Board approval, and managing and publishing hepatitis B data.

    Date: Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Time: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST

    Register at: http://bit.ly/november20

    • A confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar will be sent to you after you register.

    Moderator: Kate Moraras, MPH, Senior Program Director, Hepatitis B Foundation and Director, Hep B United

    Speakers:

    • Chris Harley, MPP, Senior Policy Advisor, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
    • Karen E. Kim, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago and Board President, Asian Health Coalition
    • Chari Cohen, MPH, DrPH(c), Director of Public Health, Hepatitis B Foundation
    • Amy Jessop, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, University of the Sciences; Executive Director, HepTREC (Hepatitis Treatment, Research and Education Center)

    Note: This webiner is off the record and not for press purposes. 

  • President Obama Extends Warmest Wishes for Diwali

    Today, President Obama wished a Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate the festival of lights.

    Watch on YouTube

    In 2009, President Obama became the first U.S. president to celebrate the festival of lights, a time of rejoicing for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and across the world.

  • Young Leaders Dialogue on Education: October 30

    Please join the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and young leaders from across the country on Thursday, October 30, 2014 from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. ET for our first Young Leaders Dialogue (YLD) Google+ Hangout on Education!

    During the YLD, Administration officials, community representatives, and WHIAAPI E3! Ambassadors will talk about Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), college affordability, and resources to stop bullying. Speakers will highlight key federal resources, and most importantly, we’ll have an opportunity to hear from you on your issues and concerns!

    In addition, E3! Ambassadors throughout the country will host YLD watch parties and in-person activities focused on education. We encourage you to join them in their ongoing efforts to “educate, engage, and empower” their campuses and communities around education, mental health, pathways to public service, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) throughout the year. To see if there’s a watch party in your area, or to host your own, please email WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov.

    You can submit questions anytime on Twitter using #E3YLD, email them to WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov, or submit them on Google+ before or during the Hangout. Our YLDs depend on your thoughtful participation, so please register, join the conversation, and read about more ways to get engaged!

  • Engaging AAPI Community Leaders on Health and Immigration

    AAPI leaders in health and immigration meet with senior White House and Administration leaders during a community roundtable on September 24, 2014

    AAPI leaders in health and immigration meet with senior White House and Administration leaders during a community roundtable on September 24, 2014. (Photo by WHIAAPI)

    On September 24, 2014, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leaders from around the country met with senior officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), White House Office of Public Engagement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to discuss health and immigration.

    The Administration officials reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to improving the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs across the country. Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the DPC, opened the meeting by thanking community leaders for their work and partnership, particularly on health care enrollment and immigration reform.