White House to honor Batayola as a ‘champion’

By Sue Misao
Northwest Asian Weekly

Teresita Batayola, CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), is one of 11 “Champions of Change” from across the nation being honored by the White House and the U.S.

Department of Health & Human Services for their work with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in accessing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.


Teresita Batayola

Batayola will receive the honor on April 24 in Washington D.C., where she also will participate in a panel discussion on the “best practices” she and her colleagues used to ensure success in their endeavors to educate and enroll members of the API community in health care.

“I’m only one person — the face of the organization,” said Batayola. “Our success really relied on the staff, both in the clinic and out in the field, in educating people to get covered.”

“They all are champions,” she added.

Batayola also credited ICHS’s different partners in achieving their goals as they struggled with website glitches and language barriers, including the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, the Chinese Information and Service Center, several eastside-based entities, and others.

ICHS reached out to more than 14,000 people, said Batayola. The organization also assisted more than 10,000 people through the wahealthplanfinder.org process. So far, she said, they successfully enrolled 5,987 people, although more are rolling in as the state continues to process the applications.

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.”

ICHS is Washington state’s largest Asian and Pacific Islander nonprofit organization providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services including medical, dental, behavioral health, acupuncture, and health education services. With several bilingual in-person assisters, community advocates, and eligibility workers who work to actively help Asians and Pacific Islanders learn about health reform and apply for insurance, ICHS has also partnered with community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, grocery stores, community centers, and libraries to meet the community need.

According to the White House, 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. (end)

The “Champions of Change” ceremony will be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:30 PST on Thursday, April 24.
The other 10 honorees are Sophie Duong, Nationwide Viet Radio, Falls Church, Va.; Howard J. Eng, Southwest Border Rural Health Research Center, Center for Rural Health, and the University of Arizona College of Public Health, Tucson, Ariz.; Minja Hong, Healthcare Access Services and Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, New York, N.Y.; Priscilla Huang, Action for Health Justice, Washington, D.C.; Amy Jones, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.; Manjusha P. Kulkarni, South Asian Network, Artesia, Calif.; Cathy Phan, Asian American Health Coalition–HOPE Clinic, Houston, Texas; Bruce Thao, Hmong American Partnership and Hmong National Development, St. Paul, Minn.; and Cathy Vue, Asian Services In Action, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

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