Asian Wisconzine Section/Heidi M. Pascual

Heidi Pascual

Celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month

Asian Americans Deserve Better Access to Health Care

Guest Column by Michael Carbonagi

During Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our communities celebrate the rich cultures, heritage, and accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. May is also a time to recognize remaining barriers to health and health access for these communities and renew commitments to addressing racial disparities. Your ability to get and afford health care should never depend on the color of your skin, what neighborhood you live in, or what language you speak.

As a Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Wisconsin, I am proud to be a part of the Administration's work to implement policies that improve access, advance equity, and promote economic opportunities for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders. President Biden’s new lower cost prescription drug law, the Inflation Reduction Act, is making historic strides towards improving health for all communities — including the 2.1 million Medicare beneficiaries who identify as Asian.

Asian American people with Medicare report more difficulty obtaining their prescription drugs than their white counterparts, underscoring the need for better access and affordability for needed medicines. The president’s new lower cost drug law is bringing relief to AA and NHPI Medicare enrollees who may be struggling to afford high drug costs. President Biden’s lower cost prescription drug law expanded its Extra Help program for Part D beginning in January, which means over 11,000 Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Medicare enrollees with low incomes may be eligible for $0 premiums, $0 deductibles, and generic drug copays that are no more than $4.50. But we need your help spreading the word to your loved ones and neighbors, as three million people are eligible for these benefits but are not enrolled. Go to for more information and to see if you’re eligible. And to spread the word, go to to find a toolkit that contains informational postcards in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Asian Americans are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, so access to insulin and other diabetes medicine is essential for achieving blood sugar control and maintaining good health. One of the first benefits of the President’s Inflation Reduction Act to go into effect — and one of the most important provisions — caps the cost of each covered insulin product under Medicare at $35 per month. In Indiana over 30,000 Medicare enrollees could save $628 per year thanks to this benefit.  The new law also makes certain recommended adult vaccines, like Shingles and RSV, available at no cost for people with Part D coverage — helping eliminate cost-related barriers to vaccination for people with Medicare. Finally, under this administration, we have begun the historic process of negotiating directly with participating drug companies for lower prescription drug prices for some of the most expensive drugs — for the first time ever.

President Biden is delivering on his promise to lower prescription drug costs, make health insurance more affordable, and make the economy work for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander families. But we know our work is not done — this administration will continue to make health equity a cornerstone of our policies and work tirelessly so that all communities can access the care they need.

Michael Cabonargi is the Region V Director for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, representing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and 34 Federally-recognized tribes.

CAPAC Members & House Democratic Leaders Celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. — May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, which recognizes the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in AANHPI history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) began this month-long celebration with a press conference today at the U.S. Capitol.

To celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month, CAPAC Chair released the following statement:

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CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28):

“Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of the vibrant cultures and immeasurable contributions of the AANHPI community. Representing over 23 million people with 70 different ethnicities and over 100 languages, AANHPIs are one of the most diverse groups in the nation, with trailblazers like Dalip Singh Saund, Patsy Mink, Daniel Akaka, and Norm Mineta paving the way for us all. And, we continue to shape this nation every day as the fastest growing racial or ethnic group.

“I am honored to lead our Caucus as Chair to help celebrate the histories and accomplishments of our communities not just in May, but all year-round. And, as we celebrate CAPAC’s 30th anniversary, we will continue to honor the profound legacies of the AANHPI leaders who paved the way for the robust AANHPI representation that we now see in the highest levels of our government. Leaders in the Administration like Vice President Kamala Harris, Katherine Tai, Julie Su, and Arati Prabhakar represent our communities at the top levels of government. And with a record-high of 21 AANHPI Members of Congress and 76 Members of CAPAC, our communities’ needs and concerns are being addressed throughout the halls of Congress as well.

“On health equity, language access, data disaggregation, immigration, education, and more, CAPAC has made landmark policy achievements, and we’re dedicated to addressing all the unique challenges facing our diverse communities.  As we look towards the future of AANHPI contributions in healthcare, businesses, sports, public service, and more, this month also marks an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the AANHPI histories which have been foundational in building the fabric of our nation. That is why I am so proud to join CAPAC Executive Member Senator Mazie Hirono again in reintroducing a Congressional resolution to recognize May as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, which honors the diverse AANHPI community’s countless achievements and important milestones that have made America what is it today. May this year’s AANHPI Heritage Month bring us together to honor, reflect, and celebrate our rich histories and inspire us to continue to advance our community’s priorities!”

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