Shining the Light on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Health

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (JHCPU)
Volume 26, Number 2, May 2015 Supplement
SUPPLEMENT FOCUS: Shining the Light on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Health

Introduction: Shining the Light on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Health
Winston Tseng, Simona C. Kwon
Author’s Note: In liieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
The United States’s diverse Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) populations have grown faster than those of any other racial/ethnic group over the past three decades.* , Out of the shadows and into the light, the health and health care issues faced by our AA and NHPI communities across the U.S., its territories, and freely associated states matter more and more to the vitality and future of the nation.

In 2015, we mark the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report, the seminal Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health documenting national health inequities by race and ethnicity, which led to the establishment of the Office of Minority Health by Congress in 1986. Notably, the report concluded that Asian/Pacific Islanders in aggregrate were healthier than any other racial group in the U.S. In this supplement, Ponce and colleagues– Ko Chin and Caballero* present a community perspective on the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, and his work in shepherding new national health equity initiatives, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the reauthorization of the Office of Minority Health (OMH), the creation of the first national U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Plan for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Health, and the new HHS data standards for race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status from Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)., In addition, the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service in Health and Health Care were updated in 2013 to provide a comprehensive framework of health and health care organizations for the delivery of culturally respectful and linguistically responsive care and services to all. We honor the heroes and transformative ideas that have worked to advance AA and NHPI health equity.

Asian American and NHPI advocates, researchers, and community leaders have also made tremendous strides in building local and regional community coalitions to document health disparities and advance health equity on behalf of our diverse communities over the past decades., In this supplement, Trinh-Shevrin and colleagues
Authors across the articles by Huang, Islam, is to focus on addressing NHPI health conditions and health care services. This work ahead of us must start with recognizing the effects of structural racism, federal policies, and U.S. occupation on NHPI health, if it is to address racial justice and restore the agency and civil rights of NHPI indigenous communities across Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, and the continental U.S.

The health equity goals of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity and Healthy People 2020 offer an opportunity for strengthening public-private partnerships between government and communities to document further the structural health inequities disfavoring AA and NHPI populations., The new HHS data standards that examine granular ethnicity and primary languages, as they are implemented across national surveys (e.g., National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, National Health Interview Survey, Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System, Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System) and administrative health data systems (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, and Uniform Data System) and reported through Healthy People 2020 and other public health dissemination venues, will allow us to track and monitor many key health issues facing AA and NHPI populations for the first time at a national level.

The National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity defines health equity as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”24[page 9] The definition of disparities by HHS and the Healthy People program has changed over time; initially the term disparities was understood as denoting disparities by race and ethnicity and focused on health behaviors and conditions. The conception of disparities in Healthy People 2020 is much broader today and includes health disparities by race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and geography as well as an examination of other…