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White House Names UA’s Howard J. Eng ‘Champion of Change’

On Thursday, April 24, the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will honor Howard J. Eng and 10 other advocates and community leaders for their work to educate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about the Affordable Care Act.

Howard Eng and the AAPI Navigator Program team

The Pima County AAPI Navigator Program team members, from L to R (seated) Jeannie Lee, PharmD; Howard J. Eng, DrPH; Lynne Tomasa, PhD; (standing) Joyce Hospodar, MBA; Kim Tham, Sujana Vinjamuri, MBBS; and Tina Johnson, MA.

Howard J. Eng, DrPH, MS, RPh, assistant professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been named a “Champion of Change” by the White House for his work as the director of the Pima County AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Navigator Program in Arizona.

On Thursday, April 24, the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will honor Dr. Eng and 10 other 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.

Dr. Eng is director of the Southwest Border Rural Health Research Center at the UA Center for Rural Health and founder and co-chair of the Southern Arizona Asian and Pacific Islander Health Coalition. He has 40 years of experience in health care as a health services and public policy researcher, working in rural Arizona and on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

As the director of the Pima County AAPI Navigator Program in Arizona, he implements a community-driven approach to consumer assistance with attention to culture, language and health literacy. The Navigator team works closely with AAPI community leaders to develop and implement outreach and education approaches to inform community members about the health coverage options available to them and provide assistance. Under his leadership, the program has reached vulnerable, culturally and geographically isolated communities.

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 percent 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 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with quality, affordable health care. In addition, eight out of 10 uninsured AAPIs may be eligible for financial assistance through Medicaid, CHIP or tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

In Arizona, there are more than 250,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders. About 4,000 of the 40,000 living in Pima County are uninsured. Dr. Eng says that many of the uninsured own or work in small businesses.

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 streamed live on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:30 pm EDT on Thursday, April 24.

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.

The University of Arizona