Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon May 2, 2012 at 9:53 AM EST
In 1990, Congress voted to have the month of May designated as Asian Pacific Heritage Month. That means that for the past twenty two years, the accomplishments, the tragedies, and the triumphs of this vibrant and diverse community have been recognized as essential to the identity of this great nation. As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month turns 22, it is an opportunity for us all to reflect on other notable milestones that define our past, informed our present, and will shape our future.
I want to tell the story of two different AAPI communities in order to illustrate our resilience and the continuing challenges of integrating newcomers to our country. One community, Japanese Americans, has undergone decades of strife and turmoil in order to emerge as a community with a national voice. Another set of our community has just set foot in America in the last few years, and they are struggling through pressing challenges that test our nation’s ability to build another generation of new Americans.
- Posted byon May 1, 2012 at 5:04 PM EST
Ed. Note: This item is cross-posted from HealthCare.gov
Each May during Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the remarkable contributions and accomplishments of the AAPI community to the fabric of our nation. As a Korean American son of immigrants, I am all too familiar with the barriers AAPIs face in accessing health care for reasons such as poverty, lack of insurance, language barriers and other challenges.
But, as the Assistant Secretary for Health, I am particularly pleased to see the progress we have made in closing the gaps in AAPI health care, and am honored to oversee efforts that can address the ongoing health disparities that continue to exist within our vibrant community.
- Posted byon May 1, 2012 at 8:00 AM EST
Today, we kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This occasion provides us with a special opportunity to celebrate the successes of our community and the important challenges that still lie ahead.
As the Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I am proud of the Obama Administration’s efforts to reach out to all members of our diverse community – to hear about the issues on their minds and their ideas for how the federal government can better serve them. Since President Obama re-established the Initiative in October 2009, the Initiative staff and advisory commission members have crisscrossed the country, holding roundtables and forums that have reached over 25,000 people in more than 50 cities.
- Posted byon April 25, 2012 at 2:25 PM EST
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 10:17 AM EST
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 4:59 PM EST
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:
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