AAPI Highlights: President Obama Speaks at AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

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 AAPI Highlights, June 3, 2013 

Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about the President’s remarks at the AAPI Heritage Month celebration, the President’s remarks regarding student loan interest rates, iCount: Equity Through Representation – an upcoming symposium on data disaggregation and more agency announcements.


President Obama Speaks at AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

 President Obama speaking to AAPIs

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration in the East Room of the White House, May 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


On May 28, President Obama delivered remarks to over 200 members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at a White House celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. The audience included national, state, and local community leaders; elected officials; leaders of philanthropic, youth, and arts organizations; and members of the President’s Administration, including Sri Srinivasan, who was recently confirmed unanimously by the Senate to become the first South Asian American federal appeals court judge.


In his remarks, the President highlighted the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who, in his words, “helped build this country, and helped to defend this country, and to make America what it is today.” Watch a video of the President’s remarks or read the transcript.


If Congress Doesn't Act, Rates for New Federal Student Loans Will Double


On May 31, President Obama called on Congress to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling on July 1. A year ago, we were in the same place -- just a few weeks out from seeing the average student with these loans racking up an additional $1,000 in debt. Speaking from the Rose Garden, the President asked the students and young people in attendance to speak out in favor of action on college affordability, just as they did in 2012. If you want to speak out in favor of college affordability, join the conversation on Twitter or Tumblr using the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate. Read and see the video of the President’s remarks here.


Good News on Innovation and Health Care


Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently blogged that “we are focused on driving a smarter health care system focused on the quality – not quantity – of care. The health care law includes many tools to increase transparency, avoid costly mistakes and hospital readmissions, keep patients healthy, and encourage new payment and care delivery models, like Accountable Care Organizations. Health information technology is a critical underpinning to this larger strategy.” Read more here.    


WHIAAPI Announcements


iCount: Equity Through Representation – June 6, 2013


One of the President's top priorities is to provide a competitive education for all Americans.  For the AAPI community, a major hurdle to this goal is the current practice of data collection that aggregates AAPI subgroup data, thus masking disparities of underserved AAPI communities.  On June 6, WHIAAPI, together with New York University’s National Commission on AAPI Research in Higher Education (CARE), will host the first-ever working symposium to address the obstacles to, and need for, AAPI student data disaggregation in K-12 and higher educational institutions.  Join Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Honorable Judy Chu, Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and other high-level federal officials as they join more than 40 educational institution representatives from across the country to learn about this new movement, iCount: Equity Through Representation.


Registration is required and seating is limited. Register here. Learn more at the iCount website here. For more information, contact Seema Patel at seema.patel@ed.gov.


Professional Development Webinar: Careers in the Public Sector Webinar – June 18, 2013


WHIAAPI and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) will be hosting a webinar on careers in the public sector on June 18 at 2:00 EDT with speakers from the Department of Education, Peace Corps, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Office of Personnel Management.  Recent graduates and young professionals interested in careers in the federal government are encouraged to participate. Click here to RSVP by June 17.


Agency Announcements


SBA Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship

On May 30, Marie Johns, Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) represented by ACE Chairman Bill Imada. This strategic alliance lays the groundwork for our future partnership and will ensure that AAPI entrepreneurs across the country have the tools they need to start and grow businesses and create jobs. Read more here.


Small Business Health Options Program Ready for Open Enrollment on October 1

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services moved forward with the release of a final rule and the application that provides small business employers with easy-to-understand access to health insurance options for their employees.  The employee and employer paper applications are two and three pages respectively, and the online application is dynamic in nature so that applicants only answer questions relevant to their situation. Read more here.


Medicare Trustees Report Shows Reduced Cost Growth, Longer Medicare Solvency

The Medicare Trustees projected that the trust fund that finances Medicare’s hospital insurance coverage will remain solvent until 2026, two years beyond what was projected in last year’s report. “The Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is projected to be solvent for longer, which is good news for beneficiaries,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are taking important steps to improve the delivery of care for seniors with Medicare. These reforms aim to reduce spending while improving the quality of care, and are an important down payment on solving Medicare’s long term financial issues.” Read more here.


Obama Administration Releases Final Rules on Employment-Based Wellness Programs

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury continued to move forward to implement the health care law by issuing final rules on employment-based wellness programs. The final rules support workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit growth of health care costs, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status. Read more here.


Obama Administration Extends Application Deadline for the Making Home Affordable Program

The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an extension of the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program through December 31, 2015. “The housing market is gaining steam, but many homeowners are still struggling,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “Helping responsible homeowners avoid foreclosure is part of our wide-ranging efforts to strengthen the middle class, and Making Home Affordable offers homeowners some of the deepest and most dependable assistance available to prevent foreclosure. Extending the program for two years will benefit many additional families while maintaining clear standards and accountability for an important part of the mortgage industry.” Read more here.


Grant Opportunities


CMS Navigator for Federally-Facilitated or State Partnership Marketplaces

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the availability of new funding to support Navigators in Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces. Navigators are individuals and entities that will provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and public programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The funding opportunity announcement is open to eligible self-employed individuals and private and public entities applying to serve as Navigators in states with a Federally-facilitated or State Partnership Marketplace. The new funding opportunity provides up to $54 million in total funding and applications are due by June 7, 2013.  To access the funding opportunity announcement online, visit: http://www.grants.gov, and search for CFDA # 93.750.


Interior Department to Hire Nearly 17,000 Young People to Work on Public Lands This Year – $4.2 million in Grants Available

In response to President Obama’s challenge to expand employment opportunities for youth, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced $4.2 million in grants to support conservation employment and mentoring opportunities for more than 600 young people ages 15-25 on public lands across the country. Read more and see a full list of grants here.


SAMHSA is Accepting Applications for up to $7.9 million in State/Tribal-Sponsored Youth Suicide Prevention Grants

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for a total of up to $7.9 million in grants for State/Tribal-Sponsored Youth Suicide Prevention grants for up to the next three years. This program supports states and tribes in developing and implementing statewide or tribal youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies grounded in public/private sector collaboration. The collaborations can involve youth-serving institutions and agencies including schools, educational institutions; juvenile justice systems; foster care systems; substance abuse treatment and mental health programs; families and youth and other interested groups. Read more here