WASHINGTON, D.C (April 22, 2014) — The White House and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services on Thursday honored advocates and community leaders as “Champions of Change” for their work to educate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about the Affordable Care Act.
The event will celebrate the leadership, commitment, and hard work of navigators, consumer assisters, community health centers, and other individuals or organizations that have focused on ensuring that AAPIs fully benefit from health reform.
For too long, many members of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community have lacked access to quality, affordable health care. One in four Korean Americans is uninsured; nearly 40% of Asian American women over the age of 40 haven’t had a routine mammogram; one in four Asian Americans over the age of 18 – and one in three Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders – have not seen a doctor in the last year. The Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity to provide nearly two million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with quality, affordable health care. In addition, eight out of ten uninsured AAPIs may be eligible for financial assistance through Medicaid, CHIP, or tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The event will include remarks by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, and Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, as well as panel discussions featuring the Champions.
The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:30 pm EDT on Thursday, April 24th.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
Bruce Thao is the son of Hmong refugees who fled Laos during the Vietnam War and came to the United States in 1975. Being the first U.S.-born child and growing up in rural communities, Bruce saw firsthand the struggles his family experienced with language and cultural barriers in navigating American educational, economic and healthcare systems.
His life’s work thus far has been a combination of advocacy, research, clinical work, and capacity building to create access for disenfranchised communities. Bruce is currently the Director of Programs for Hmong American Partnership (HAP) and Hmong National Development (HND), where he oversees programs, policy and strategy. He oversees HAP and HND’s work around the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota, California, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Carolina, where they have reached almost 20,000 Hmong and other Southeast Asians.Bruce has an M.S. in Psychology from St. Joseph’s University and an M.A. in Social Welfare from the University of Chicago. He is a 2013 Bush Fellow and advisor to Shades of Yellow (SOY), the first and only Hmong LGBTQ organization in the world.