May 1, 2013
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
In May, we observe Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and celebrate the many contributions made by this diverse community. While we recognize the progress made in reducing health disparities in this and other communities, we realize there is still much work to be done. That is why we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
To help further our work in this area, we have issued enhanced National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards. This updated framework helps guide health professionals and organizations in their delivery of culturally respectful and linguistically responsive care. Recognizing that health is influenced by many factors, CLAS broadens the definition of culture to, including race, ethnicity, language, spirituality, sexual orientation, and gender identify.
Enhancing the CLAS Standards is just part of our effort to ensure that all Americans get the health care they need and deserve. Because of the Affordable Care Act, historic opportunities to help reduce health disparities now exist.
For example, the Affordable Care Act has allowed 97,000 more Asian-American and Pacific Islander children to gain health coverage, because they can now stay on their parents' plans until age 26. About 3.8 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders with private insurance have gained expanded coverage of free preventive care, such as mammograms and diabetes screenings.
And because of the health care law, millions of Americans will have the opportunity to get affordable, quality health coverage. Starting October 1, 2013, they will be able to shop for coverage that best fits their needs and budget in the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage will begin as early as January 1, 2014. Sign up now for information at https://signup.healthcare.gov.
Together, these initiatives will make a difference in the lives of all Americans, including Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, giving everyone the chance to reach their full health potential.