AAPI Month: From The White House With Love

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

In honor of us, I'm posting out some stuff from the Big House.

White House Blog

Observing AAPI Heritage Month
Posted by Chris Lu on May 01, 2012 at 09:00 AM EDT

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.

During our travels around the country, we’ve talked about how the policies of the Obama Administration have helped the AAPI community by:

Creating 4.1 million private sector jobs over the past 25 months.
Providing tax relief to 7.6 million AAPI workers through the payroll tax cut.
Passing 17 tax cuts to help American small businesses, including 1.5 million AAPI-owned businesses in the U.S.
Making health care more accessible and affordable to AAPI families, including expanding preventive services to 3 million AAPIs.
Making college more affordable, including preventing a student loan interest rate increase for 334,000 AAPI students.
President Obama has also appointed a historic number of highly qualified Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to senior positions in his Administration. One of his first actions was nominating three AAPIs – the most ever – to his Cabinet: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, and former Secretary of Commerce and current Ambassador to China Gary Locke. And over the past three years, the President has nominated more AAPIs to become federal judges than any other administration. When President Obama came to office, there were eight AAPI federal judges. Today, there are 16, and two more await confirmation by the Senate.

Over the next month, we will highlight the many ways in which the Obama Administration has helped the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and feature some of the AAPI officials serving in the Obama Administration. We hope you will visit this blog to learn more.

Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. He is also the Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Making Progress to Close the Gaps in AAPI Health Care
Posted by Dr. Howard K. Koh on May 01, 2012 at 06:04 PM EDT
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.

The good news is that the President’s health care law -- the Affordable Care Act – provides us with the opportunity to increase access to care, and vastly improve health outcomes for AAPIs. According to an HHS Research Brief released today, an estimated two million AAPIs will be eligible for insurance coverage by 2016 under the new health care law.

Already, the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to free preventive services. The law requires insurers to cover preventive care so families do not have to pay out-of-pocket costs for services such as well-child visits, flu shots or blood pressure screenings. In 2011, private insurers improved coverage for mammograms, other cancer screenings, and other preventive services to 2.7 million AAPIs. And, to date, 867,000 elderly and disabled AAPIs with Medicare have used free preventive services, including an annual wellness visit with their doctor.

As the law continues to be implemented, uninsured AAPIs will gain access to affordable health care insurance through new Affordable Insurance Exchanges or expanded Medicaid coverage. And AAPIs suffering from chronic diseases, including an estimated 891,000 with diabetes, will have access to promising new health care innovations to improve the management of these conditions.

Today, as we kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let us celebrate the critical progress we are making toward achieving our collective goal of reducing – and eventually eliminating – health care disparities. We are all committed to improving the health and well-being of all Americans, including our family and friends in the AAPI community.

To learn more about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders read the issue brief and fact sheet.

Dr. Howard K. Koh serves as Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Official Proclamation

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 1, 2012

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Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have helped make America what it is today. Their histories recall bitter hardships and proud accomplishments -- from the laborers who connected our coasts one-and-a-half centuries ago, to the patriots who fought overseas while their families were interned at home, from those who endured the harsh conditions of Angel Island, to the innovators and entrepreneurs who are driving our Nation's economic growth in Silicon Valley and beyond. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers us an opportunity to celebrate the vast contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our Nation, reflect on the challenges still faced by AAPI communities, and recommit to making the American dream a reality for all.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad achievements embody the American experience. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have started businesses, including some of our Nation's most successful and dynamic enterprises. AAPI men and women are leaders in every aspect of American life -- in government and industry, science and medicine, the arts and our Armed Forces, education and sports.

Yet, while we celebrate these successes, we must remember that too often Asian American and Pacific Islanders face significant adversity. Many AAPI communities continue to fight prejudice and struggle to overcome disparities in education, employment, housing, and health care. My Administration remains committed to addressing these unique challenges. Through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we are working to expand opportunities for AAPI communities by improving access to Federal programs where Asian American and Pacific Islanders are currently underserved. To learn more about the Initiative, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/AAPI.

As we also take this occasion to reflect on our past, we mark 70 years since the Executive Order that authorized the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Last month, I announced my intent to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the country's highest civilian honor -- to Gordon Hirabayashi, who openly defied this forced relocation, and bravely took his challenge all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

This year, we also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese cherry blossom trees planted in Washington, D.C., an enduring symbol of the friendship shared between the United States and Japan and a reminder of America's standing as a Pacific nation. Over the centuries, we have maintained a long, rich history of engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, and our AAPI communities have been essential to strengthening the economic, political, and social bonds we share with our partners around the world.

This month, we reflect on the indelible ways AAPI communities have shaped our national life. As we celebrate centuries of trial and triumph, let us rededicate ourselves to making our Nation a place that welcomes the contributions of all people, all colors, and all creeds, and ensures the American dream is within reach for all who seek it.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2012 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.AsianPacificHeritage.gov to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

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