With rich diversity, history, and the strength of unity, Utah’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community came together on January 31, 2015 for a series of roundtable discussions with federal representatives on health, immigration, small business opportunities, education, and civil rights.
With topics as diverse as the community itself, the issues raised by more than 90 community leaders offered immense insight to Utah’s AAPI community needs and the grassroots strategies that will be needed to address them. Therefore it should not be incumbent upon the community to look for the right government agencies to address these issues. The White House Initiative on AAPIs (WHIAAPI)’ Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG) was formed for this very purpose. The RIWG, comprised of federal officials located across the country, is committed to engaging local communities and connecting them to federal resources, with the goal of creating “no wrong doors” approaches to government services.
Robust discussions led by community leaders at the roundtables gave the topics breadth and depth. RIWG members listened and discussed the various resources available within their agencies. Community members at each table presented their perspectives on issues, such as language access for government services, bullying, health services, business and economic development, access to educational opportunities, disaggregated data, and immigration. Based on these conversations, RIWG members will coordinate strategic follow-ups to address the needs.
Preceding the roundtable discussions, on January 30, 2015, WHIAAPI convened an Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment event in Salt Lake City’s Sorenson Unity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Utah Department of Health, National Togan American Society, and Take Care Utah provided extensive outreach to nearly 100 members from the AAPI communities on signing up for affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Navigators and certified application counselors gave seminars and were on hand to help facilitate on-site enrollment.
The enrollment event was something for the whole family. It drew families from all walks of life from the richly diverse communities of Salt Lake City. It was a place where the community from every background could sit down, share a meal, and talk with federal representatives about general and mental health issues and the options available for them. While the adults listened to the informational sessions on the Affordable Care Act and Utah’s Health Insurance Marketplace, children enjoyed a movie. This event reemphasized that having quality affordable health coverage affects the entire family.
Paul Chang is a Regional Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.