The Administration for Community Living recently awarded the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) $150,000 to provide technical assistance to Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) grantees to help them better reach and serve limited English proficient (LEP) Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Medicare beneficiaries.
Need for In-Language Resources
LEP among AAPI older adults makes them a particularly hard-to-reach population for SMP and SHIP grantees. AAPI older adults are a particularly vulnerable group with higher poverty rates and lower educational attainment among several ethnic groups, as compared to the general older adult population.
A large number of Asian Americans moved to the U.S. as older adults to live with their adult children, over 78 percent of Asian American elders are foreign-born, and AAPI elders are often socially, culturally, and linguistically isolated and are not assimilated into mainstream society. These factors contribute to AAPI older adults facing difficulties understanding and accessing Medicare benefits, and having increased vulnerability and susceptibility to Medicare fraud and abuse. In addition to cultural barriers and navigating an unfamiliar health system, language barriers pose challenges to LEP AAPI older adults in obtaining critical information on Medicare including, but not limited to: eligibility requirements, enrollment processes, changes to their Medicare plans and prescription drug plans, how to access providers, and how to understand their cost savings or benefits.
While significant resources exist for SMP and SHIP grantees to reach Spanish-speaking LEP beneficiaries all across the country, the resources, strategies, tools and cultural competency for reaching AAPI LEP beneficiaries are significantly less available.
Technical Assistance to SHIP and SMP Grantees
The funding from ACL will enable NAPCA to work with SHIP and SMP grantees in their work with LEP AAPI Medicare beneficiaries. NAPCA will build an AAPI Medicare Resource Center that will host resources, training and a toolkit, to assist SMP and SHIP grantees to better serve and reach LEP AAPI Medicare beneficiaries.
NAPCA will be partnering with two outstanding organizations – the Pacific Gateway Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center based in Washington, DC – who will assist with outreach and in the development of linguistically appropriate materials.
NAPCA anticipates wide-reaching impacts from the establishment of the AAPI Medicare Resource Center. Concluding this work, not only will SHIP and SMP grantees be able to identify the unique characteristics, challenges, and needs of LEP AAPI populations and be able to design and implement culturally competent and linguistically appropriate strategies, tools, and services to reach and serve these populations, but LEP AAPI Medicare beneficiaries will also have increased awareness about their Medicare benefits, how to use them and demonstrate an increased ability to identify and prevent Medicare fraud, abuse, and error.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.