WASHINGTON – Today, Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) issued the following statement in response to the proposed Section 1557 Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities regulations released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The proposed regulation implements the Affordable Care Act (ACA) nondiscrimination provisions which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

“We are encouraged that proposed Section 1557 regulations further strengthens language access requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – long-standing protections for minority communities. Ensuring language access for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American community is of the utmost importance for the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act and to ensure health equity for all. One-third of Asian Americans are limited English proficient and 60 percent of the community are immigrant. Our work during the first two ACA enrollment periods showed that language barriers were a leading impediment for successful enrollment for AA and NHPI communities. Having strong Section 1557 protections that apply to all HHS programs and recipients of federal funding will ensure meaningful access for LEP persons when accessing critical health services. We welcome the administration’s commitment to ensuring federal offices and supported programs protect all Americans and prevent discrimination.”

The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on September 8 and they will remain open for comments until November 6. APIAHF, through Action for Health Justice, issued a brief on ACA implementation, which outlined barriers to enrollment, including language access and eligible immigration status. Title VI and implementing regulations and Section 1557 prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin, which includes language access.