Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog

  • Reaching AAPIs Regionally: Discussing the Affordable Care Act in Illinois

    Federal Officials and Community Leaders Discuss ACA AAPI Specifics

    Federal officials and community leaders convene in Chicago during the Regional Interagency Working Group Region 5 roundtable to discuss successes and challenges facing AAPIs with the Affordable Care Act February 11, 2014. (by South Asian American Policy & Research Institute)

    The Region 5 Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG) of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) partnered with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the State of Illinois to host a Health Care Roundtable in February. Panel presenters from federal, state, and community sectors discussed the latest updates, successes, and challenges regarding enrollment initiatives under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The roundtable was a unique convening of federal and state leaders, in-person counselors, navigators, and others on the frontlines of health care access issues in Chicago’s AAPI community, including event co-sponsors South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) and Asian Health Coalition (AHC).

    Participants were given an overview of the Chicago area’s AAPI population, a rapidly growing group that faces unique health disparities. AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in Illinois, with Indian Americans as the largest subgroup.  Representatives from community-based organizations discussed successful outreach and enrollment strategies. They shared anecdotal examples of effectively connecting with Asian and other immigrant communities, including outreach at religious institutions and social events in collaboration with key leaders who have strong relationships with ethnic communities.

    Community advocates detailed the enrollment challenges and discussed potential solutions with federal representatives. For example, WHIAAPI provided ideas of private-public partnerships that may support the efforts of the community organizations that are often the best point of contact for AAPI applicants. Participants suggested that language assistance resources used in the Health Insurance Marketplace call center should also be made available in the identity verification process, to assist applicants with limited English proficiency.

    As the March 31 open enrollment deadline approaches, this regional roundtable provided a critical forum for agencies and community leaders to share successful strategies, describe challenges, and formulate solutions. For those who would like to apply for health coverage through the Marketplace, there are four basic ways to apply. Besides going online, you can use a paper application, visit a trained assistor in your community, or call our Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to apply and enroll over the phone. Learn more about how to enroll.

    Following the roundtable, the RIWG members provided resources for participants to access additional information about federal government programs. The community leaders appreciated the opportunity to explain their concerns directly to state and federal officials. We look forward to building off this event and continue these candid conversations between federal officials and the AAPI community in the Chicago region.

    Doug Nguyen is the Deputy Regional Communications Director for the Social Security Administration in Region 5. He is also a member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ Regional Interagency Working Group.

  • New Initiatives to Expand Opportunity for AAPIs & Our First National Community Google+ Hangout

    Last week, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) held our first National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout. With the theme “Expanding Opportunity for AAPIs,” we launched several efforts to better connect the AAPI community with the federal government. Joined by federal officials, community leaders, and actor Maulik Pancholy, I was excited by the vast participation and hope you will engage with WHIAAPI on our new initiatives.

    If you missed the Hangout, you can watch it here:

    • Share Your Partnership Ideas on Challenge.gov
      WHIAAPI is calling for submissions on great ideas to work with us to expand opportunities for the AAPI community. Proposals may include innovation, enhanced infrastructure, and effective outcomes for a focused amount of time on a project of choice that serves the needs of the community. The challenge is to think beyond the existing work and to have a proposal that would make a meaningful impact on the community. For instance, is there a hot topic issue that your community-based organization has thoughtful solutions for tackling, but needs government support to pursue, or is WHIAAPI overlooking a critical target population in its current work? Submit your idea for partnering with us through Challenge.gov by March 28, 2014.
    • Submit Your Feedback to Federal Agencies
      On the Hangout, we released a comprehensive report of what federal agencies have accomplished from their 2013 plans to improve access to federal resources for underserved AAPIs. We also released the 2014-2015 federal agency plans. The plans represent the federal government’s commitment to increasing access to services for the AAPI community, with an emphasis on four priority areas: data disaggregation, language access, workforce diversity and capacity building. We’re also inviting you to utilize an interactive tool to provide feedback and “like” any agency objectives by March 31, 2014: aapi.ideascale.com.
    • Get to Know Your Regional Interagency Working Group
      Regional interagency working groups of officials representing more than 25 federal agencies and sub-agencies have been formed and trained to work with AAPI communities. Regional working groups in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already hit the ground running. In the last few months, they heard directly from community members about their challenges and have started to demystify the work of the federal government and its programs and services and create new partnerships with community leaders. To connect with your regional interagency working group, email WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov. Please include your name, organization if applicable, and location.
    • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions
      To meet President Obama’s goal of having America produce the highest proportion of college graduates in the world once again by the year 2020, actor Maulik Pancholy announced the Initiative’s #AANAPISIstory campaign on the Hangout.  The campaign seeks to raise awareness about Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), the educational institutions that provide culturally relevant services and have high AAPI populations, to help meet President’s Obama’s 2020 goal. Using #AANAPISIstory on social media platforms, the Initiative will collect stories in the form of photos, videos and writing about what AANAPISIs mean to members of the AAPI community. To share a story and learn more about AANAPISIs, please visit bit.ly/AANAPISI.
    • AAPI Heritage Month
      During the Hangout, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center director Konrad Ng announced its theme for this year’s AAPI Heritage Month in May: “I Am Beyond.” The theme captures how AAPIs have met challenges and excelled beyond them in shaping the nation. The Center is inviting organizations, individuals and communities across the country to join the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month and share their interpretation of the theme over social media using #IAMBEYOND.  Visit www.apa.si.edu soon for more information.  Expressions can include, but are not limited to, visual art, literary work, or multimedia. The theme aims to enrich the appreciation of the Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the American story.

    We hope to continue the conversation from the Hangout. Let us know how the federal government can best serve the community at WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov. WHIAAPI and our partners will strive to reinforce relationships, forge coalitions, bolster institutions and the capacity of community based organizations in order to ensure the federal government better serves us all.

    Kiran Ahuja is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

  • President Obama Meets Japanese American World War II Veterans

    On February 19, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, leading the United States government to confine more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps across the United States. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were United States citizens.

    Despite tremendous prejudice and the internment of their families, more than 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans (nisei) volunteered to serve in the United States Army during World War II – most notably, in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units of World War II, and the Military Intelligence Service.

    In 2010, over 65 years later, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal – one of the highest civilian awards in the United States – to thousands of these veterans, finally recognizing the sacrifices they made for their country.

    Today, the President met with seven of these surviving veterans, all in their 90s, to thank them in person for their service.

    President Barack Obama returns the salute from one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office

    President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Learn more:

    And for more background, read about the Smithsonian Institute exhibit, American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal

    Gautam Raghavan is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Nominate a White House Champion of Change for AAPI Affordable Care Act Outreach

    For too long, many members of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community have lacked access to quality, affordable health care. Consider this: one in four Korean Americans is uninsured; nearly 40% of Asian American women over the age of 40 don’t get routine mammograms; one in four Asian Americans over the age of 18 – and one in three Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders – have not seen a doctor in the last year.

    The Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity to provide nearly two million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with quality, affordable health care – but these individuals won’t gain access to affordable health care unless they know about the benefits of the Act and how to enroll for coverage.

    Since open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace kicked off on October 1, 2013, thousands of community advocates, direct service providers, and community based organizations have stepped up to help AAPIs gain access to health insurance, many for the first times in their lives. They have knocked on doors, educated their friends and neighbors, and helped individuals and families enroll through HealthCare.gov.

    The dedication, commitment, and passion of these “Champions of Change” is worth celebrating – and that’s why we need your help!

    We’re asking YOU to nominate an individual or organization  as a “White House Champion of Change” for their work to educate AAPIs on the Affordable Care Act.  You can nominate Affordable Care Act navigators or consumer assisters, direct service providers, staff of community-based organizations, and other individuals or entities that have focused their Affordable Care Act outreach and enrollment efforts on ensuring that AAPIs will fully benefit from health reform. We need your help to nominate the leaders and heroes who have developed best practices that contributed to the success of Affordable Care Act outreach for the AAPI community.

    There are three main categories that you can nominate someone for:

    1. Educators, Assisters, and Navigators. Recognizing individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to educate, assist, and enroll AAPI individuals and families. Their efforts have helped AAPIs understand the Affordable Care Act and ensured that they benefit from this historic law.   
    2. Emerging Community Leaders. Individuals and organizations focused on emerging communities, for example, small, rural, and newly immigrated AAPI communities. These leaders have gone the extra step to ensure that limited English proficient, newly arrived immigrant and refugee families, and AAPI individuals in locations without access to navigators able to provide in-language support, can learn about and enroll in health insurance plans.
    3. Expert Communicators. Individuals who have developed top-notch outreach and communication strategies to ensure that AAPIs can read, hear, and learn about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Their communications strategies included activities such as developing in-language resources, developing written, oral, and media-friendly materials, and working with community groups, faith communities, and ethnic media to reach AAPI communities across the country.  

    When sending in your nominations, please describe the individuals and communities that the Champion of Change has helped, providing as much detail as possible. In addition, make sure to highlight the best practices they used to be creative, effective, and impactful in their Affordable Care Act education, outreach, enrollment, and/or communication efforts. 

    Nominate an AAPI Affordable Care Act Outreach Champion of Change

    NOTE: Nominations are now due no later than Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

    Gautam Raghavan is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

     

     

  • National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout: February 20

    National AAPI Community Google+

     

    Please join the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), as well as government, civic and business leaders from across the country on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3 PM ET for our National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout!

    Building on key topics highlighted in President Obama’s State of the Union address, we’ll discuss national priorities for AAPI communities and launch a drive to engage the AAPI community. We’ll also announce new efforts we’re working on with our partners around critical issues facing the AAPI community.

    White House and Administration officials will talk about what we’ve learned and done nationally, and our next steps. Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, will announce this year’s AAPI Heritage Month theme. And, most importantly, we’ll have an opportunity to hear from people like you.

    You can submit questions anytime on Twitter using #WHIAAPI, email them to WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov, or submit them on Google+ before or during the Hangout, but the inaugural National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout depends on your thoughtful participation, so please sign-up and join the conversation.

    NATIONAL AAPI COMMUNITY GOOGLE+ HANGOUT
    Hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

    DATE:      Thursday, February 20, 2014

    TIME:      3 p.m. ET (12 noon PT)

    LINK:      http://bit.ly/AAPIGoogleHangout

    Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.   

  • Increasing Federal Agency Outreach to Limited English Proficient Communities

    AAPI Summit to Improve Federal Outreach

    WHIAAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja speaks to federal representatives kicking off a day-long summit on how to improve federal outreach to AAPI limited English proficient (LEP) communities. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Lee) January 31, 2014.

    Last week, the White House Office of Public Engagement and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) convened a day-long summit for federal agencies to discuss how to improve outreach to limited English proficient (LEP) communities.

    Executive Order 13166 – “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency” – requires federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to LEP individuals, and develop and implement a system to ensure meaningful access. And the statistics are compelling:  1 in 3 AAPIs is LEP.  Being LEP means you are less likely to seek medical care; report positive health care experiences; or even access government economic opportunities such as small business loans.   

     Language access has been a priority from day one at WHIAAPI. When the President signed the Executive Order reestablishing WHIAAPI, he stated, “No community should be invisible to its government”.  This statement has been WHIAAPI’s guiding light. In April 2010, less than 4 months after I became Executive Director, the BP Oil Spill devastated the Gulf Coast, affecting thousands of people, including hundreds of Southeast Asians who have lived in the Gulf for decades and made their living off the waters of the Gulf Coast. WHIAAPI deployed staff to the Gulf to address the concerns and needs of the AAPI community impacted by the spill. As a result, the first federal-wide language translation clearinghouse was established, in which all materials produced for the oil spill were translated into seven languages.

    Since then, in partnership with the Department of Justice and other agencies, we have made great progress around language access.  Agencies have increased the number of in-language publications, done inventories of bilingual staff, created video vignette training series, or built stronger ties to ethnic media. 

    And for many of us, it is personal.  Many of the federal employees at the summit said they have family or friends who speak another language other than English at home, and many said they have had to translate or interpret for family members. As the Census has shown, more than 57 million people speak a language other than English at home.

    We are also particularly proud of WHIAAPI’s recent series of in-language Google+ Hangouts on the Affordable Care Act for top AAPI LEP populations with the highest rates of being uninsured: Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. Google+ Hangouts can be a low-cost and extremely effective alternative to reaching a large number of AAPIs who are LEP.  What is great about these Hangouts is that community members can continue to access themas an important federal resource. 

    At the summit, we challenged our federal partners to do even more for AAPI LEP communities, such as translating additional documents in AAPI languages, hosting an in-language Google Hangout, or thinking creatively on how we can share resources across federal agencies.

    We know that in a few short decades, the AAPI population will double.  My hope is that together, we stay ahead of this curve, and live by the ideals espoused by our President, “that no community should be invisible to its government” and that the federal government - and its many resources and services - should not be invisible to LEP communities.

    Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.