As AB 1726, the AHEAD Act (D-Bonta), reaches the Senate Floor, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) continue to stand proudly with our community-driven movement to advance the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) by calling for data disaggregation of our diverse community.
We stand united with over 120 health, legal, education, and civil rights organizations in support of a bill seeking to identify differences between groups and use this information to develop solutions that will save lives.
Together we recognize the reality that race plays a major role in determining the health and education outcomes of AANHPIs. Because of efforts to collect disaggregated data, we know health disparities exist. We know Korean men are twice as likely to die of cancer as Asian Indian men, Filipino men are more than twice as likely to die from kidney disease as Korean men, and the rate of uterine cancer among Samoan women more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, but remained stable among Native Hawaiian women over the same time period.
We Call Upon the Governor and California State Legislature to Support AB 1726
The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) stands together with over 110 health, legal, education and civil rights organizations in strong support of better data collection through AB 1726 (Bonta), the AHEAD Act.
Health data saves lives. Only from data collection and analysis are we able to understand who is most affected by certain diseases and health threats. With data, we can monitor when the medical system is not reaching a community in need. With data, we can advocate to create prevention programs that address the needs of each community in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way. From healthcare use, disease patterns, and environmental health hazards, data equips healthcare providers and policymakers with tools to make the right decisions---decisions that save lives.
Healthcare for children, families, seniors, and our communities requires a commitment not just to the individual but to the collective. Proven, scientific strategies, such as data collection and analysis, help us identify and address health disparities. Without critical information on race and ethnicity, we all pay the price.
Unfortunately, opponents have fallen prey to political tactics seeking to create a wedge between our communities. Using fear and manipulation, they are trying to invoke horrible events of our history to make political gains. They are fearful of our collective power, our growing numbers, and our powerful voices.
Let’s stand together for real change. Let’s challenge the status quo. Let’s make our lives better and continue to improve essential civil rights and services that make us stronger and healthier.
Written By: Jonathan Tran, HIP Member. Content reflects Mr. Tran's personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any other organization.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Like so many other Southeast Asian families, my parents worked A LOT. They took multiple shifts and worked overtime whenever they could. That left the child rearing during those long hours to my “ah kong” (grandpa) and “ah ma” (grandma). One of my earliest memories was a casual day with ah kong in the garden we had in the backyard. He paused from his yard work when I came up behind him. I distinctly remember him reaching into a massive bucket, his face beaming with excitement and pulling out a giant guava the size of my head. I didn’t appreciate this until I was older, but growing a mutant-sized guava in the desert of Los Angeles is no easy task. I could feel the pride he had in this monstrosity of a fruit because of all the labor and time he had put into growing and cultivating it.
AB 1726, the AHEAD Act (Bonta), is in the home stretch! It is time for us to show the CA State Legislature and Governor that we mean business. This bill will disaggregate health and educational data to ensure that all AAPI communities receive the support and services they need to thrive. We have until the end of August to ensure that the CA State Legislature approves the bill to get onto Governor Jerry Brown's desk.
In order to ensure the bill passes its final stage in the CA State legislature ―the CA Senate floor ―today CPEHN is joining community members and partner organizations from all over California to lobby at the state capitol in support of AB 1726. We are talking with staff, meeting one on one with legislators, and informing our elected officials why we need data disaggregation! The data will be used to measure existing disparities among the diverse APIA communities.
AAPIs are made up of 48 diverse groups, and diverse communities have different social, economic and educational outcomes that need to be addressed appropriately. Now is the time to make our communities visible! #AllCACounts
One of the ways CPEHN participated in National Minority Health Month in April was by co-hosting a panel of experts with the Asian Pacific Islander Capital Association to discuss the status of health equity among the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community. The experts highlighted various approaches we can all take to eliminate health disparities disproportionally affecting certain API communities.
What are the barriers keeping communities from achieving a healthy community?
“You can’t fix what you don’t know,” proclaimed Jonathan Tran from The California Endowment. He was referring to the lack of information and data available regarding South East Asian communities. Before funding and resources can be streamlined into building a healthier community, access to comprehensive data must exist. Since data regarding Asian Americans is characterized for as a whole, research studies are limited in their ability to accurately identify information about the issues affecting specific Asian American subgroups. When all communities are counted for and validated, the numbers can be used to implement change. The AHEAD Act — AB 1726 — addresses this necessary concern by requiring higher education institutions and public health agencies to disaggregate data for additional API groups.
Today, Governor Jerry Brown made it easier for all children to enroll in affordable health coverage, regardless of immigration status, when he signed Senate Bill 4, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara. Under the measure, eligible children currently receiving limited health care services will be automatically enrolled in full-scope Medi-Cal coverage in 2016. This is a victory for all kids, and will serve as a good first step as we continue our work to expand coverage to undocumented immigrant adults.
However, health is about more than just coverage. Earlier this week, the Governor vetoed Assembly Bill 176, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta. This bill would have required several state agencies to use more detailed ethnic categories when collecting demographic data for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs). This data is essential for identifying inequities within AA and NHPI communities, of which there are more than 50 in California. Existing data sources, including the California Health Interview Survey, show disparate rates of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and obesity among diverse AA and NHPI communities. Combining all of these unique subgroups into one data category only serves to mask the underlying inequities.
CPEHN remains committed to Health for All and will continue to support policies that require more detailed data collection to help us fully understand the health needs of our communities.
For many health advocates across California, today has been highlighted on the calendar for months. That’s because it’s the day that the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released the results of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) for 2013 and 2014. As the most detailed source of health data for California’s diverse population, CHIS is instrumental to our advocacy efforts here at CPEHN as we work to eliminate the inequities faced by communities of color.
During a seminar earlier today, Dr. Ninez Ponce (a former CPEHN board member) and Dr. David Grant discussed the survey and some of the results. One exciting new feature of CHIS is that you can now access individual year data from 2011 to 2014. Before, the data was released every two years, but now the plan is to release new data each year:
"This is a significant development that will provide policymakers and others with much more timely data on the health of Californians," said David Grant, director of CHIS.
The 2013 and 2014 CHIS data is particularly interesting because it shows the impact of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions. We are in the midst of the largest reduction in uninsurance rates in a generation and prior to today we were still looking for solid information on the scope of the ACA’s impact. In a new fact sheet also released today, the UCLA Center showed how the uninsured rate in California dropped significantly in 2014, thanks in large part to a large increase in Medi-Cal recipients.
In order for CPEHN and other health advocates to promote policies that effectively reduce disparities, we need as much information about our communities’ needs as we can get. Unfortunately, we often lack the data to really illustrate disparities within racial and ethnic groups, which is why collection of disaggregated data in the health care system is one of CPEHN’s policy priorities.
Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities, especially, are extremely diverse and each population has different experiences and needs. To get an idea of how some of these API communities have fared since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians, led by former CPEHN Board member and former President/CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum Ho Luong Tran, M.D., M.P.H., has issued a detailed report, The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Pakistani, & Vietnamese Americans. This report looks at both access to care and some key social determinants of health (including income and education) at the national level to get a better understanding of disparities within these ethnic subgroups. Since California has the largest population of most of these API subgroups, and roughly one-third of the nation’s total API population, the report also includes statewide data to help us promote health equity in our state.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has proposed a regulation to require electronic health record systems to document and use disaggregated data on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and social and behavioral factors that influence health. This data will make it easier to identify disparities and achieve health equity.
The regulation would require up to 900 race and ethnicity categories and up to 600 language categories, the first time that any federal department has required comprehensive disaggregation. This also would be the first time that sexual orientation and gender identity data would be routinely collected.
Public comments supporting this proposed regulation are needed. Please submit yours today! While comments submitted by organizations are important, it also is very important for individual members of the public to submit personalized comments.