ORANGE COUNTY, CA—As President Barack Obama recently unveiled his American Jobs Act, his 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been labeled a job killer.
Though, recently announced ACA Community Transformation Grants could lessen health disparities affecting communities of color, including Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), by helping states and communities discover root causes behind chronic diseases.
In Orange County specifically, Vietnamese American adults are less likely than adults of other ethnicities to rate their health as excellent, according to an Orange County Health Needs Assessment (OCHNA) 2010 report.
The report is called “A Look at Health in Orange County’s Vietnamese Community” and uses information gathered from a 2007 survey.
Of the OC Vietnamese American adults surveyed, 8.3 percent rated their health as excellent, while 39 percent Black adults, 29.7 White adults, 25.1 percent other AAPI adults, and 23 percent Latino adults rated their health as excellent.
However, 13.2 percent OC Vietnamese American adults rated their health as very good, 40.2 percent rated their health as good, 27.5 rated their health as fair, and 10.8 percent rated their health as poor.
When surveyed about their children’s health, 22.9 percent OC Vietnamese Americans rated their children’s health as excellent, compared to 69.4 percent OC Whites surveyed.
According to Women’s Health Director of the VNCOC Asian Health Center Dr. Thuy-Anh Nguyễn , many Vietnamese Americans have little understanding about their health, making it difficult for community members to be certain about how healthy or unhealthy they are.
With the disparity in the OC Vietnamese American community’s health compared to other OC ethnicities, could the community benefit from the ACA community grants?
Chronic disease causes, physical inactivity in children
Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, account for 70 percent of American deaths and 75 percent of the nation’s health spending, according to a factsheet provided by HealthCare.gov.
Certain habits like, using tobacco, abusing alcohol, unhealthy eating, and exercising irregularly can contribute to poor health and chronic disease.
According to the OCHNA report, OC Vietnamese American children are less likely to participate in after school activities, like sports programs, than OC children of other ethnicities.
The primary reasons for such lack of participation among OC Vietnamese American children were a lack of interest in such activities, no time for such activities, and such activities being unavailable to them.
According to Dr. Suzie Dong-Matsuda, service chief of the Asian Pacific division of the OC Health Care Agency’s Mental Health Services program, cultural and language barriers can lead to a lack of knowledge about such activities among Vietnamese American parents.
Also, a cultural value on education among Vietnamese American parents contributes to children focusing on studies or after school tutoring, according to OC AAPI Community Alliance Director Ms. Jacqueline Trần .
What will ACA community grants do to help the community fix chronic diseases?
From sickness, disease to wellness, prevention
ACA community grants will fund California health agencies in counties and cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco that will help improve health of residents in their communities.
Health agencies in these three locations combined will receive over $10 million in funding to implement programs that community organizations have proven will prevent chronic diseases.
The programs will focus on reducing tobacco use, active living and healthy eating, emotional wellness, as well as other clinical and preventative services specifically regarding high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
No OC communities have been reported as receiving funding from the ACA grant.
At the time of this article’s publication, the Viễn Đông was still awaiting response on whether or not the OC Health Care Agency applied for a grant, as well as what the agency can do to help prevent chronic diseases in OC without the grant’s funding.
In related news, the ACA has been under attack from Republican lawmakers who want their states to be able to have the option to not comply with the ACA. In response, the White House has asked the Supreme Court to decide on the legality of the ACA, though it is confident the ACA is constitutional.
What will happen to the ACA community grant if the ACA is ruled unconstitutional?