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.