Date: March 26, 2009
Contact: Carol Kim (English) (t) 323-937-3703
Contact: YangHee Park (Korean) (t) (323) 937-3718
Healthcare Equality Is a Part of Quality Healthcare
Korean American Seniors Participate in the Launch of the HealthCare Equality Project
Los Angeles, CA – Health disparities are a national concern, according to elderly Korean Americans in Los Angeles. The National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Korean Resource Center (KRC), and members of KRC’s Community Health Promoter program are participating in the launch of the Healthcare Equality Project, a national campaign to address race-based health disparities that persist in America’s healthcare system. The campaign was launched on March 24, 2009, in Washington, D.C., and brought together Members of Congress with community members to work towards providing fair access to quality healthcare for everyone in the national health reform movement.
Most new immigrants are from places in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and tend to be people of color who are fluent in languages other than English. For example, over eighty percent of Korean American seniors living in Los Angeles County have limited English proficiency. They often receive inadequate care when health services are only available in English. Many seniors enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal are more likely to be disenrolled from their plans when notices written in English are not translated to Korean. Tragic stories of patients dying from a misdiagnosis of their condition have been also well documented at hospitals serving large immigrant populations that do not provide adequate interpretation services.
“When we talk about health care equity, we’re talking about giving everyone living in this country fair access to quality healthcare – including families whose livelihoods depend on self-employment or low-wage work,” said DaeJoong Yoon, Executive Director of KRC. “We know that language access issues affect all limited English speaking patients regardless of the type of health insurance they carry. Through KRC’s Second Opinion Health Clinic, we learned that even patients who have private health insurance do not understand what their doctor’s diagnosis means for them.”
“These Korean American seniors are part of a national movement to reform our healthcare system to one that is responsive to the needs of women, immigrants, and ethnic and racial minorities,” notes EunSook Lee, Executive Director of NAKASEC. “Community Health Promoters, for example, have worked with county administrators to implement language assistance programs, which are mandated by federal and state law. By making health care equity an essential part of any meaningful health reform discussion, we have an opportunity to support their efforts and ensure fair access to quality healthcare for all Korean American seniors.”
The HealthCare Equality Project (HEP) is a unique coalition of advocacy groups, labor unions, civil rights and women’s groups, doctors and healthcare workers. HEP provides a platform to mobilize and coordinate the effort to include health care equity in the national health reform movement.
The Health Rights Organizing Project (HROP) is a collaboration of grassroots community organizations around the country committed to securing quality, affordable health care for all. Member organizations are highlighting the race-based health disparities that persist in their communities through echo events taking place this week in nine states. NAKASEC and KRC are members of HROP.
KRC’s Community Health Promoters campaign began in 2006 to break language barriers on the local level for Korean American seniors who receive Medi-Cal and Supplemental Security Income benefits in Los Angeles County.
Founded in 1983, KRC has served, organized and empowered the Korean American community in Los Angeles, the largest in the country, on matters relating to immigrant rights, health care access, civic engagement, and community development. KRC is an affiliate of NAKASEC.
NAKASEC is a grassroots public policy organization that promotes civil rights, immigrant rights, and the full participation of Korean Americans in U.S. society – on issues such as healthcare and immigration reform. NAKASEC and its affiliates believe that everyone living and working in the United States should have access to quality, affordable medical care, and that a reformed State Children’s Health Insurance Program would be a first step to fix the healthcare system.