Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Congressman Jeff Denham Jeopardizes Health Care of More Than 100,000 Constituents

Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) will be closely watched by his Stanislaus and San Joaquin county constituents (Modesto, Turlock, Tracy, Manteca) when the “Trumpcare” medical care scheme is placed before the House for a vote on Thursday, March 23rd.  The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted seven years ago and has withstood numerous court challenges, could be decimated by Congressman Denham's vote.  Health care for a sizable percentage of Congressman Denham’s constituents would be jeopardized.

More than 100,000 residents of Congressman Denham’s district were enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans in 2016.   This includes more than 26,000 enrolled in Covered California plans (the state's Affordable Care Act health care exchange) and more than 79,000 enrolled in Medi-Cal expansion plans.  Nearly one out of every seven residents of Congressman Denham's district is enrolled in an Affordable Care Act plan.  An unknown additional number owe their health insurance to the Affordable Care Act's employer contribution requirements.  Many health care personnel at Modesto's Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, among other local hospitals and clinics, would lose their jobs if Congressman Denham approves dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.

All of Stanislaus County is contained within Congressman Denham’s district.  In 2016, more than 82,000 Stanislaus County residents were enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, including 18,100 in Covered California and 64,410 in Medi-Cal expansion.  Of the 18,100 enrolled in Covered California plans, 16,950 received subsidies.   The vast majority of Stanislaus County Covered California enrollees were in Anthem Blue Cross of California plans (10,680), followed by 5,730 in Kaiser Permanente plans and 1,610 in Blue Shield of California plans.

Modesto would be especially hard-hit if the Affordable Care Act were repealed as nearly 45,000 residents receive their health care through the A.C.A.  Nearly 8,200 residents of Modesto ZIP codes (95350-51, 95354-58) are enrolled in Covered California plans and another 36,400 are enrolled in Medi-Cal expansion plans.

Turlock, along with hosting California State University Stanislaus, is Congressman Denham’s adopted hometown.   More than 12,000 Turlock residents (ZIP codes 95380-82) receive their health care through the Affordable Care Act, including 3,120 through Covered California and 8,959 through the Medi-Cal expansion.

Tracy in San Joaquin County (ZIP codes 95304, 95376-78, 95391) has more than 11,000 enrollees in Affordable Care Act plans, including 4,260 in Covered California and 7,117 in Medi-Cal expansion plans.  More than 9,000 Manteca residents (ZIP codes 95336-37) are enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, including 2,970 in Covered California and 6,365 in the Medi-Cal expansion.

Health care is an essential human need; it has no partisan bounds.  Republicans and Democrats need access to affordable, quality health care. Ripon in San Joaquin County is among the most politically conservative cities in California.  Nearly 1,400 Ripon residents receive their health care through the Affordable Care Act, including 620 through Covered California plans and 755 through Medi-Cal expansion plans.  Escalon also favored Donald Trump for President in 2016.  Nearly 1,300 Escalon residents are enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, including 460 in Covered California plans and 833 in Medi-Cal expansion plans.

Behind each of the 100,000 residents of Congressman Denham’s district who are enrolled in Affordable Care Act health care plans is an individual with personal medical needs.  Some cope with serious medical conditions that could not be insured at a reasonable price if the Affordable Care Act were to be abolished.  Others live under precarious economic circumstances wherein a family medical emergency would otherwise cause bankruptcy, had the Affordable Care Act not existed. 

These 100,000 voices and their family members, neighbors and co-workers need to inform Congressman Denham that their medical “safety net” cannot be dismantled.  The axe would fall mercilessly, forcing cancer patients, stroke and heart attack victims and other patients to navigate a devastated medical bureaucracies.  The protections of an important civil rights law (section 1557) would be destroyed.  Congressman Denham, at the instigation of President Trump, is gambling with a trillion dollar sector of the American economy (more than one-sixth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product) with haste and without carefully considering the full ramifications, especially the 100,000 constituents who could lose their health care coverage.

Contact Congressman Denham and tell him to preserve the Affordable Care Act, both through his comment form and through Congressman Denham’s health care survey.

Phone Congressman Denham’s offices at (202) 225-4540 (Washington, D.C.) and (209) 579-5458 (Modesto) and ask him to keep the Affordable Care Act.

For Affordable Care Act Medi-Cal expansion statistics as of October 2016, click here.
For Covered California enrollment statistics as of June 2016, click here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ronald Reagan Would Oppose Trump/Pruitt Vendetta Against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) is preeminent in the pantheon of American conservative political leaders since World War II.  The quadrennial pilgrimage of Republican presidential candidates to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. for a televised debate in front of the retired Air Force One plane is now an established tradition.  "What would Reagan do?", the Republican presidential candidates ask themselves and each other as they establish their "conservative credentials" before a national audience.

Mr. Reagan, who enjoyed the outdoors (especially by horseback), would be aghast at the current effort by President Donald Trump and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to decimate federal environmental lawmaking and enforcement.  As California governor from 1967 to 1975, Mr. Reagan established a venerable record as a strong environmental champion.  Mr. Reagan signed the 1967 legislation that established the California Air Resources Board, stopped a major dam on the Eel River in northwestern California and halted the Minarets highway that would have bisected a relatively pristine section of the southern Sierra Nevada range.  Journalist Lou Cannon details these accomplishments in his biographical book, "Governor Reagan."  Then-State Resources Agency Secretary Norman B. "Ike" Livermore, a former lumber company executive, advised Governor Reagan to take many of these landmark environmental preservation actions.

Sen. George Murphy: "unrestrained fouling of ... air.  We cannot go backward."

U.S. Senator George Murphy (R-Calif.), another 1960s conservative Republican, also was a strong supporter of clean air laws; Senator Murphy helped to champion the 1967 federal Air Quality Act that included the "California waiver" to permit the Golden State to enact environmental policies that were more stringent than the federal standards.  Senator Murphy said at a federal hearing at San Francisco's federal building on January 15-16, 1968, "California has passed the point in its history when it can allow unrestrained fouling of its air.  We cannot go backward."

Clean air then knew no partisan bounds; California's Democratic congressmen on the House Commerce committee, John Moss of Sacramento and Lionel Van Deerlin of San Diego, also helped to pass the 1967 Air Quality Act.  Congressmen Moss and Van Deerlin worked especially hard in autumn 1967 to overturn the House Commerce committee's vote against the California waiver.

Gov. Ronald Reagan: "Remove smog from politics" - "The smog we breathe brings disease without regard to political alliance."

Appended below is Ronald Reagan's "smog control" campaign plank from his first race for California governor in 1966.   Mr. Reagan promised to "[r]emove smog from politics and influence by special interest groups to insure that positive steps toward air purification are taken immediately and without fear of political reprisals."  Governor Reagan said at his January 9, 1968 State of the State Address, "The compelling issues which face our people are not partisan – in nature or solution.  The burden of taxation presses down upon Democrat and Republican alike.  The smog we breathe brings disease without regard to political alliance.  The search for happier, healthier, more productive life is shared by the vast majority of our citizens.  Those here of goodwill and serious intent know this to be true … While you and I wrestle here with budgets and billions, our citizens wrestle with the day-to-day problems of dirty air and dirty water and dirty and congested streets.   As someone has said, it is a bit incongruous that while we reach for the stars, we stand knee-deep in garbage."

President Trump, EPA Administrator Pruitt, congressional Republicans and the wider circle of Mr. Reagan's acolytes should follow "the Gipper's" sage, time-honored advice.  Federal environmental rulemaking and enforcement should be removed from politics and influence by special interest groups to insure that positive steps toward air purification are taken immediately and without fear of political reprisals.


I am strongly committed to eradicating smog in California … As Governor, I will:   

1.  Work to establish uniform laws on air pollution to insure minimum state wide standards for the reduction of pollutants from diesel trucks and buses, autos, and industrial plants.    

2.  Call for legislation to coordinate research in California on smog prevention and control that is currently being conducted separately by the state, county agencies, auto manufacturers, and the Federal government.   

3.  Work closely with local agencies in making certain that pollutants from industry are adequately regulated and controlled.

4.  Remove smog from politics and influence by special interest groups to insure that positive steps toward air purification are taken immediately and without fear of political reprisals.
With decisive action, such as this, we can hasten the day when all Californians can once more breathe clean, fresh air.

[an original copy of this document is found in the "Reagan" folders of Carton 599 of the Senator Thomas Kuchel Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley]