Wednesday, May 9, 2012

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As we commemorate Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the significant medical and scientific contributions made by this diverse community.  During this month, we also recognize that many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders still encounter barriers to accessing health care due to poverty, insurance status, and lack of culturally appropriate health services.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans achieve health equity by eliminating disparities and doing what we can to improve the health of all communities.

Through the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, an additional 2.5 million young adults, including 97,000 Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, have gained health coverage because they can stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.  Also, an estimated 2.7 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing.

In addition, the new HHS data collection standards under this law expand the “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” categories to include Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and “other Asian,” as well as Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, and “other Pacific Islander,” to better help us understand the diversity of the populations we serve.

Together, these initiatives provide an opportunity to make a difference in the everyday lives of all Americans, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, to ensure that all have a chance to reach their full potential for health.

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