With the Republican take-over of the House of Representatives, do you think there will be a repeal or modifications in federal health care reform?
Unfortunately, it appears that implementation of federal healthcare reform, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will continue to be a target of the incoming congressional leadership. While it is unlikely that the entire act will be repealed, components of federal healthcare reform are already under attack.
Since passage of the reform, insurance carriers can no longer deny coverage to children under the age of 18 based on a pre-existing condition, and young adults [up] to age 26 cannot be denied coverage under a parent’s policy. In 2014, adults cannot be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition and more than 4.5 million Californians currently without health insurance coverage will become eligible. Resources are currently being invested to expand prevention and health education programs, to train and recruit primary care medical providers, and to establish medical “homes” as the preferred method of providing healthcare. While a number of states have filed legal challenges to the law in federal courts, a federal district court in Michigan has already held that the federal reform passes constitutional muster.
In Congress, some members of the recently elected Republican majority have threatened to block the law by voting against appropriations. Notwithstanding these actions, as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, I will be working to advance healthcare reform in California. While I still believe that a Single Payer system would be the most economical and efficacious means of delivering universal healthcare coverage, I will continue to fight for any and all incremental improvements that might improve the health and lives of Californians.
With the holidays upon us, how can our readers get involved in helping fight prevalent local issues such as hunger?
The holiday season has always been a special time for my family, as I believe it is for many families. I see the holidays as a time to support local charities and nonprofit organizations that do incredible work to provide food, housing, and other forms of support to individuals and families who are struggling.
In the greater Santa Cruz area, Second Harvest Food Bank is holding its annual food drive and donations can be dropped off at locations throughout the county. Look for the large barrels.
The California Grey Bears is hosting a free holiday dinner for seniors 55 and older from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St. in Santa Cruz. For homebound seniors who want to have meals delivered to their homes, please call (831) 479-1055. Additionally, Grey Bears is accepting donations of money and food for the event, and those interested in contributing can call (831) 479-1055 or visit
I encourage all Good Times readers to consider supporting a local nonprofit or volunteering some time in service to those in need. To me, service to community and giving to programs and projects that are making a difference marks the essence of the true holiday spirit.
December is Universal Human Rights Month. Will you be taking part in any activities to raise awareness about the need to safeguard human rights locally?
On Dec. 4 I will be participating in the 2010 Human Rights Day Luncheon, hosted by the United Nations Association (UNA), at the Elks Club in Monterey, marking the 62nd Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UNA will be honoring Mez Benton for her work on behalf of disabled children and adults. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Phillip Butler, who was held as a Prisoner of War (POW) for nearly eight years during the Vietnam War. Dr. Butler has just published Three Lives of a Warrior which details his career in the military, his long ordeal as a POW, and his post military life working for peace and as an anti-torture advocate.
As a lifelong advocate for enforcement of human rights, I was proud to author and pass Assembly Concurrent Resolution 129, which requests [for] the California Attorney General to publicize the local reporting requirements by cities, counties, and the state of human rights violations under provisions of various international human rights treaties ratified by the United States government.