A bill that would require the breaking out of data to better understand the unique health needs of the various Asian American subgroups has been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown.
AB 1726 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) would disaggregate data to reveal the rates of major diseases and leading causes of death among various API ethnic groups.
“The population of California is uniquely diverse, especially within the API community. There are more than 23 distinct communities within the Asian American population and 19 within the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population. AB 1726 will give us a clearer pathway to formulate policy focused on positive outcomes for our specific API communities,” Bonta said.
“While we share some of the same challenges, such as language access issues, racial discrimination, and obstacles born of immigration, each of our diverse communities has different social and economic outcomes that need to be addressed appropriately,” Bonta said.
The bill had to be watered down to specifically exclude the disaggregation of education data. Mostly Chinese first generation groups feared such data would be used against them in university admissions and waged a vigorous fight that threatened the entire bill.
The bill however, remains significant given the high rate of Hep B and smoking in the Chinese community, the consumption of alcohol in the Korean community and the varying disease rates, health insurance coverage, and birth and death rates among the different subgroups.
Various API groups joined with Bonta in praising Governor Brown, who vetoed similar legislation last year, in signing AB1726.
“Since our organization was established 30 years ago, APIAHF has advocated for the collection and reporting of disaggregated data to provide an accurate picture of the health status of AA and NHPI communities,” said Kathy Ko Chin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. “The Governor’s approval of AB 1726 takes an important step toward addressing the health disparities affecting these communities in California.”
“SEARAC celebrates today’s signing of The AHEAD Act as a big step forward for equity and our communities by revealing chronic health disparities for immigrant and refugee communities such as Southeast Asian Americans whose health needs have been institutionally concealed and ignored for too long,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. “Increased data will empower physicians, public health professionals, policy makers, and community members to responsibly tailor community-driven solutions that recognize and address the unique needs of our increasingly diverse communities.”
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