Governor Signs Bonta Bill to Uncover Health Disparities in the API Community

Sunday, September 25, 2016

AB 1726 Requires Disaggregated Health Data for API Ethnic Subgroups; U.C. and C.S.U.  Agree to Voluntarily Release Data

(Sacramento, CA) – Today Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is proud to announce that Governor Brown signed his bill, AB 1726, the Accounting for Health and Education in Asian Pacific Islander Demographics Act (the AHEAD Act), designed to uncover health disparities among the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community.

AB 1726 requires the Department of Public Health to use specified categories for additional major Asian and Pacific Islander groups when they collect certain demographic data. This data will reveal information on rates for major diseases and leading causes of death per demographic.

Bonta says the state will be better able to determine each subgroup’s needs by disaggregating the data.
“I believe good data drives good policy,” Bonta explained.  “One way to get good data is through disaggregation. Disaggregating data means breaking it down into smaller subgroups and assessing specific trends that were previously hidden.”

“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.

Under AB 1726, the Department of Public Health will collect and release disaggregated demographic data for the following populations: Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, Fijian, and Tongan Americans. The data collected will include rates for major diseases, leading causes of death, pregnancy rates, and housing numbers.

“It’s critical that our policy leaders understand this diversity and are sensitive to the fact that APIs are not all the same,” said Bonta. “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.
“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."

“I want to thank Governor Brown for working in a true spirit of collaboration to reach a successful outcome on this vitally important piece of legislation,” Bonta said. “I also want to thank the leadership at the California State University and University of California systems for being great partners and for agreeing to voluntarily begin releasing disaggregated data on graduation rates, completion, enrollment and admissions.”

See AB 1726 for the full text of the bill.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. Bonta Chairs the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee, and the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color.