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AAPI Heritage Month: Mary Chung Hayashi


Mary Hayashi saw a wide gap existing between Asian-Americans, healthcare and policy and sought to close it. She was voted to the California State Assembly in 2006 and represented the 18th Assembly District. As a fierce healthcare advocate, she authored multiple bills to ensure that the population of California was able to access the healthcare that they needed. These bills were eventually signed into law, including AB 108 (prohibiting health plans and insurers from rescinding individual health care policies), AB 235 (a bill requiring insurers to cover treatment for psychiatric emergencies without prior authorization), and AB 509 which prompted movement toward establishing California’s Office of Suicide Prevention, an issue that Hayashi’s family faced firsthand with the suicide of her sister. In addition to the lawmaking change she fostered, Mary Hayashi served as the Alameda County Coordinator and passed propositions providing prevention, early intervention and treatment services in addition to statewide mental health program. She also acted as a Commissioner on the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to ensure that propositions were monitored and implemented correctly. Hayashi was previously a member of the California Board of Registered Nursing and a Chair of the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate Political Action Committee. She was a board member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Research! America, which served as an enormous catalyst for changing the budget of the National Institutes of Health to double what it was allotted previously. An author of a book about her journey from Korea to becoming a health care advocate, Far From Home: Shattering the Myth of the Model Minority, she has also been spotlighted as a speaker, contributing to the White House Conference on Mental Health. Her articles and expertise have been utilized in fostering health care change across the country in famed media such as Redbook Magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal.

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