White House to honor "Champions of Change" for Affordable Care Act outreach to AAPIs

Recognition honors eleven community leaders' work to educate AAPIs about access to health care

This week, the White House and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will honor eleven advocates and community leaders as "Champions of Change" for their work to educate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about the Affordable Care Act.

The event, to be held at the White House this Thursday, April 24, will celebrate the leadership, commitment, and hard work of navigators, consumer assisters, community health centers, and other individuals or organizations that have focused on ensuring that AAPIs fully benefit from health reform.

Some facts about Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders and health care access: One in four Korean Americans is uninsured; nearly 40% of Asian American women over the age of 40 haven't had a routine mammogram; one in four Asian Americans over the age of 18 -- and one in three Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders -- have not seen a doctor in the last year.

Thursday's event will recognize outreach and education efforts to provide nearly two million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with quality, affordable health care. Here are the Champions of Change -- special shout out to my old friend Priscilla Huang, Policy Director for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

Teresita Batayola, CEO, International Community Health Services (ICHS)
Seattle, WA

Teresita leads Washington State's largest Asian and Pacific Islander non-profit organization providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services including medical, dental, behavioral health, acupuncture and health education services. ICHS has several bilingual in-person assisters, community advocates, and eligibility workers who work to actively help Asians and Pacific Islanders learn about health reform and apply for insurance. All of these staff are bilingual and bi-cultural and provide enrollment support in at least one Asian or Pacific Island language, including Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Samoan, and Vietnamese. ICHS has also partnered with community based organizations, faith-based organizations, grocery stores, community centers, and libraries to meet the community need.

Sophie Duong, CEO/President, Nationwide Viet Radio
Falls Church, VA

Sophie, a media professional with over 30 years of experience, is the CEO and President of Nationwide Viet radio, which provides news, music, entertainment, and educational programming for the Vietnamese American community in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area as well as worldwide. To address skepticism about the Affordable Care Act in the Vietnamese community, Sophie wrote newspaper articles, conducted TV and radio interviews, and created a walk-in center at her own business in Eden Center, an AAPI commercial center in Virginia, to help sign up uninsured families. As a small business owner herself, Sophie was able to articulate the benefits of ACA to small business owners and their employees.

Howard J. Eng, Assistant Professor and Director of the Southwest Border Rural Health Research Center, Center for Rural Health, The University of Arizona College of Public Health
Tucson, AZ

Howard Eng, DrPH, RPh, has 40 years of experience working in health care, including 28 years as a health services/policy researcher, 22 years of experience working in rural Arizona, and 20 years of working on the U.S.-Mexico Border. As the director of the Pima County AAPI Navigator Program in Arizona, he implements a community-driven approach to consumer assistance with attention to culture, language and health literacy. The Navigator team works closely with AAPI community leaders to develop and implement outreach and education approaches to inform community members about the health coverage options that are available to them and provide assistance. Under his leadership, the program has reached vulnerable, culturally and geographically isolated communities. Howard is also the founder and co-chair of the Southern Arizona Asian & Pacific Islander Health Coalition.

Minja Hong, Program Coordinator of Healthcare Access Services, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York
New York, NY

In addition to her position with Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Minja is also a state-certified Navigator for New York State and a Certified Application Counselor for New Jersey. She has worked to organize large outreach and education events for Korean and Japanese American communities in these states, speaking at churches, community organizations, libraries, medical centers, hospitals and fairs. Previously, as a Community Health Advocate, Minja worked to bring equal access to health services for all New Yorkers, especially those with language barriers.

Priscilla Huang, Action for Health Justice
Washington, DC

Priscilla Huang is Policy Director for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, an organization that co-founded the nationwide Action for Health Justice collaboration along with the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles. Action for Health Justice is a coalition of more than 70 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) national and local community-based organizations (CBOs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in 21 states. Its purpose is to leverage the efforts of national organizations with local CBOs and FQHCs to maximize ACA enrollment and outreach for AAs and NHPIs across the nation. Action for Health Justice's partners assisted tens of thousands with ACA outreach and education (e.g., town halls, workshops, discussion groups, informational brochures, flyers, and postcards), provided hundreds of media outreach touches via social, traditional and ethnic media, and provided outreach, education and support in over three dozen different AA and NHPI and other languages.

Amy Jones, Director of Health & Social Services, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), Inc.
Philadelphia, PA

Amy is a licensed social worker who has worked with immigrant and refugee communities in Philadelphia since 2008. At SEAMAAC, her primary role is to assess the health and social needs in Philadelphia's Asian immigrant and refugee communities; design, fundraise for, and implement programs to address these needs; and provide support to staff, interns, volunteers, and community leaders to advance the condition of immigrant and refugee families' lives in the United States. Amy is particularly committed to finding creative and empowering solutions to best reach AAPI communities with culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and enrollment activities.

Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director, South Asian Network (SAN)
Artesia, CA

Manju leads SAN, a community-based organization dedicated to advancing the health, empowerment and solidarity of persons of South Asian origin in Southern California. Through her work at SAN, Manju advocates for effective policies and practices on issues impacting the South Asian American community, and works to educate South Asian Americans on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act through in-language materials and outreach and individual assistance to enroll in California's health benefit exchange, Covered California. Previously, Manju served as Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) in Los Angeles, California, where she worked to improve access to quality health care for low-income individuals through administrative and legislative policy advocacy and litigation. She has also authored numerous articles, reports and training materials and provided legal assistance and training to hundreds of health attorneys and advocates across the country.

Ranjana Paintal, Program Manager, Asian Health Coalition of Illinois
Chicago, IL

Ranjana serves as program manager for the Asian Health Coalition's partnership consortium around education, outreach and enrollment to underserved Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) communities in Illinois. To target hard to reach immigrant communities, she oversaw the development of culturally sensitive and language appropriate ACA educational materials; outreach to ethnic news media outlets, education and outreach to community leaders and coordinated many collaborative efforts with other organizations to increase ACA enrollment. Ranjana has been working in public health for over 13 years. Prior to working with the Asian Health Coalition, she worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Oak Park Department of Public Health and the University of Chicago such as on issues such as vaccine preventable diseases, HIV/AIDS, emergency preparedness, cardiovascular health, and diabetes.

Cathy Phan, Affordable Care Act Program Coordinator, Asian American Health Coalition (AAHC) - HOPE Clinic
Houston, TX

HOPE Clinic, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center founded in 2002, provides affordable health services to patients of all ages and promotes preventative care, encourages a healthy lifestyle, and advocates for health equity for all. As the Affordable Care Act Program Coordinator, Cathy led HOPE Clinic's efforts to collaborate with over 18 different community partners in over 14 different languages to provide health outreach and education in the Greater Houston area. Under Cathy's leadership, over 8,000 people were thoroughly educated on the topic of the Affordable Care Act, and over 1,800 people received one-on-one assistance to enroll into the Marketplace. To improve the health of the Asian American, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander community, Cathy hopes to continue championing for easier access to healthcare, believing that high quality healthcare should be a right that is available to everyone in a convenient manner.

Bruce Thao, Director of Programs, Hmong American Partnership (HAP) and Hmong National Development (HND)
St. Paul, MN

Bruce is the son of Hmong refugees who fled Laos during the Vietnam War and came to the United States in 1975. Being the first U.S.-born child and growing up in rural communities, Bruce saw firsthand the struggles his family experienced with language and cultural barriers in navigating American educational, economic and healthcare systems. His life's work thus far has been a combination of advocacy, research, clinical work, and capacity building to create access for disenfranchised communities. Bruce is currently the Director of Programs for Hmong American Partnership (HAP) and its subsidiary, Hmong National Development (HND), where he oversees programs, policy and strategy. He oversees HAP and HND's joint work around the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota, California, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina, where they have reached almost 20,000 Hmong and other Southeast Asians. Bruce has an M.S. in Psychology from St. Joseph's University and an M.A. in Social Welfare from the University of Chicago. He is a 2013 Bush Fellow and advisor to Shades of Yellow (SOY), the first and only Hmong LGBTQ organization in the world.

Cathy Vue, Program Coordinator, Asian Services In Action (ASIA), Inc.
Cleveland, OH

Cathy manages public health programs for ASIA, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center in Northeast Ohio and also oversees ASIA's statewide AAPI outreach and enrollment efforts regarding the Affordable Care Act. Under her leadership, AAPIs in Ohio gained multiple access points to affordable health care coverage. Throughout open enrollment, Cathy worked collectively with community partners - Asian American Community Services in Columbus, Ohio and Asian Community Alliance, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio - to ensure that limited English proficient and immigrant families understood the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, under Cathy's leadership, Project RAISE, which is ASIA's CDC-funded REACH project, facilitates regular access to healthy food options, nutrition education, and environments that promote physical activity for about 5,000 AAPIs in and around Cleveland. Cathy also leads another CDC project that disseminates AAPI-centered HEAL promising practices to local, regional and state policymakers and is instrumental in ASIA's federal Office of Minority Health Funded Data Collections/Evaluation initiative.
The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website at 1:30pm EDT on Thursday, April 24. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, go here.

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