Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon April 25, 2012 at 3:25 PM EDT
During April, we celebrate National Minority Health Month by reflecting on the progress that has been achieved in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. As we continue to move forward toward health equity, we recognize that this has truly been a year of unprecedented opportunity for minority populations.
The Affordable Care Act -- the landmark health care law signed by President Obama two years ago -- is generating new opportunities in the national effort to eliminate health disparities.
The new health care law gives Americans the security of knowing that they don't have to worry about losing coverage if they get sick or change jobs:
- Children can no longer be denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or a heart defect, and in 2014, insurance companies will be banned from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
- An additional 2.5 million young adults have gained health coverage because they can stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26, including 97,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Posted byon April 25, 2012 at 11:17 AM EDT
Yesterday, the President delivered remarks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and continued his call for Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.
If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates will double on July 1 for more than 7.4 million students with subsidized federal Stafford Loans. Approximately 334,000 AAPI borrowers would see their loans increase. To out-educate our global competitors and make college more affordable, Congress needs to stop the interest rate on these student loans from doubling.
This announcement is one of a series of steps that the Administration has taken to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans. The Obama Administration’s “Pay as You Earn” plan enables 1.6 million current students to take advantage of a new option to cap student loan repayments at 10% of monthly income when they start repayment, as soon as this year. Graduates currently in repayment can cap their payments at 15% of income right away. Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/ibr.
Now, President Obama is calling on Congress to put forward legislation to stop interest rates from doubling. For the estimated 334,000 AAPI borrowers it would mean an estimated average savings per borrower of $1,089 for Asian Americans and $1,042 for Pacific Islander/Hawaiian Americans over the life of the loan and an estimated total savings of over $361 million. Keeping interest rates on student loans low would allow more Americans to get: a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to the middle class.
And, the President is asking all borrowers to help make sure Congress acts, saying:
… I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online -- call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them -- we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them: #dontdoublemyrate. All right? I’m going to repeat that -- the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.
... Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last.
Read more about President Obama's proposals to keep college affordable for students and their families.
- Posted byon April 18, 2012 at 5:59 PM EDT
For more than 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens." On Monday, the President invited you, the American public, to nominate everyday heroes for one of our nation’s highest civilian honors.
Who is your hero? Who has gone above and beyond, performing extraordinary deeds of service? Help us recognize the exemplary citizen from your community -- and bring them the public attention they deserve by nominating them for this year’s medal.
Here is an inspiring example of a hero honored last year:
- Posted byon April 18, 2012 at 2:47 PM EDT
Like several of my colleagues at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I did not choose this field as much as it chose me. In many ways I feel a product of my formative years in the early 1980’s when the rate of drug use was at its peak. Although the rate of drug use in America is down roughly 30% since, for those of us who went to high school and college in the early 80’s, the consequences of drug use and underage drinking were often a part of our growing up in the same negative ways youth experience today, like overdoses, automobile accidents, school failure and family strife. Even back then, I could see the need for trained folks in a young person's constellation of school and community life to help with the negotiation of these challenging issues. Or better yet, a network of folks in the community, professional and lay, who could develop a young person’s resiliency to be better prepared to deal with life’s challenges. For most of the last 22 years, since graduating with a Master's in Social Work, I have been privileged to work in community-based non-profits meeting these needs, either trying to prevent teen substance use or clinically treat those with a substance abuse disorder.
- Posted byon April 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM EDT
The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. A guiding theme is to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice. As a member of the Interagency Working Group for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), I work to increase the conversation and draw attention to the unique issues of AAPI communities. EPA has committed to ensuring that AAPIs enjoy full opportunities in the workforce, partnering with Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI), and addressing the concerns of AAPI communities.
For example, many AAPI women who work in nail salons are exposed to chemicals. EPA is working to reduce this exposure by providing information on best practices, examining alternatives to chemicals used in the nail salon industry, and coordinating our efforts with those of other federal agencies. EPA has also announced in the next year we will be doing a research project with our partners to monitor indoor air in nail salons before and after improving practices in the salon so that we can determine the impact changes can make.
- Posted byon April 5, 2012 at 3:32 PM EDT
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) new Section 3 Business Registry is a vital tool to promote jobs and contracting opportunities for AAPI businesses and the communities they serve. We invite you to enroll.
Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 requires that recipients of HUD financial assistance provide, to the greatest extent feasible, low-income residents with job training and employment, as well as contracting opportunities for the companies that hire them. Section 3 initiatives have dramatically expanded the job opportunities available to low-income persons and public housing residents.
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