April 9, 2013
WASHINGTON—With the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new health insurance marketplaces less than six months away, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that health reform works for all communities, especially those who do not speak English very well or at all.
APIAHF, concerned that language barriers may leave out hundreds of thousands of individuals and families with limited-English skills, kicked off its language access postcard campaign to coincide with the ACA’s third anniversary last month. APIAHF and 17 partners from across the country collected and delivered nearly 1,000 postcards to HHS, putting a real face on the nation’s diversity and language needs.
“Health reform offers historic opportunities to improve the health of diverse communities, including Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs),” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “While the law has already helped millions of AAs and NHPIs, we are deeply concerned that many in our community, and many other language minorities, could be locked out of the law’s new coverage options if they cannot navigate the enrollment process or don’t understand their coverage options.”
Across the country, APIAHF and its community partners are gearing up for the open enrollment period by providing educational materials and holding community forums. But, it is critical that HHS do its part to reduce barriers to enrolling in the new marketplaces by translating the application form into at least 15 languages and providing language services for limited-English speakers. Given that an estimated one in four people in the new marketplaces will speak a language other than English at home, the need for in-language applications and services is great.
To celebrate the ACA’s third anniversary, APIAHF created the Affordable Care Act Turns 3: A Planning and Educational Toolkit for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities, which provides easy to use resources to help organizations plan and implement public outreach drives about health reform. APIAHF also released a video promoting the benefits of the health reform law to encourage all communities to prepare for open enrollment.
We thank the following organizational partners for their participation: AIM for Equity (national), Asian Services in Action, Inc. (Ohio), Asian Health Coalition (Illinois), Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (Oregon), Asian Pacific Islander Cancer Survivor’s Network (national), Asian Pacific Community in Action (Arizona), Center for Pan Asian Community Services (Georgia), Coalition of Asian Children and Families (New York), HOPE Clinic (Texas), National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (national), National Tongan American Society (Utah), New Mexico Asian Family Center (New Mexico), NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (New York), Pacific Islander Health Partnership (California), Samoan National Nurses Association (California), Taulama for Tongans (California) and TOFA (California).
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum influences policy, mobilizes communities and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Learn more at http://www.apiahf.org.