Many organizations combined to hold a Town Hall meeting for District 45 on August 5.
CHIOC (Community Health Initiative of Orange County)
ACLU of Orange
OC Labor Federation
OC Democratic Party
Canyon Democratic Club
Representative Mimi Walters was invited, and never responded to the invitation.
The meeting was very inspiring. About 100 people attended, including candidates Katie Porter and David Min. Not present was Rob Schniederman, a Republican candidate.
The event was held at the Irvine United Congregational Church, who proudly sponsored the event (which I found interesting as Planned Parenthood was a major contributor). The representative of the Church said they want to provide a voice in Orange County. The invocation was very political, reminding us that their religion turns no one away. “Open our eyes to see our neighbors among us.”
The focus of the meeting was Health Care.
The first speaker was Yasmin Peled from Health Access, a health care advocacy group. California had 21% uninsured before the ACA (about 7 million people). Now the uninsured rate is 7.1%, (national rate is 8%) with most being insured by Cover California. Currently Orange County has 5% uninsured population, down 44% since the ACA was enacted. 300,000 in California would lose health care if the ACA was repealed. And 15,000 health care jobs would be lost. Because of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, many immigrants won’t come forward with health concerns.
Ms. Peled warned that Congress will keep trying to repeal the ACA. The Trump Budget proposal has almost $1 Trillion cut to Medicaid! Mimi voted for the House repeal bill and was in the Rose Garden for the signing. Trump will try to undermine the law by having Secretary Price of HHS stop payments to insurance companies for cost-sharing, which helps people pay co-pays and deductibles. “We must keep fighting. It isn’t over until the people opposing the ACA are no longer in power.”
Next to speak was Aaron Reyes from CHIOC, which provides access to quality health services for all. Mr. Reyes reminded us that we need to be a community that helps people in need.
The next speaker was from the United Domestic Workers Union. She was very dramatic and powerful. She emphasized that we must help the weak, disabled, and elderly. “Everyone has a right to be healthy, not just the rich. We need to take care of each other.”
The last speaker was Clarissa Woo from the ACLU. The ACLU is fighting to defend and expand health care access. They see the current climate as trying to take away a “right”. They support universal health care.
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson said that in California, PP serves 800,000 people (men and women) and in OC, 100,000 people. They provide overall health care services. She noted that prisoners cost $92,000 a year to keep in prison, and they receive full health care and dental benefits. Bizarre!!
After the panel discussion there was a Q&A. People’s stories were very powerful and stressed the need to continue the fight. A young Iraq war veteran, who has been fighting cancer, thanked Obama for the ACA. He told us that 7 million veterans would lose health care if the ACA were repealed. “We should be judged as a society by how we treat the poor, sick, and weak.”
It was very encouraging for me, a child of the 1960’s, to see these young, confident women devoting their energy to these causes. I worry that there aren’t enough young people, particularly women, participating in this process. But these young women were so smart, articulate, and passionate, it gave me hope.
What can we do?
Keep fighting! Contact Mimi’s office often. Leave messages, send emails. We are in defensive mode and until 2018, we need to keep fighting. We need to register voters and get out the vote.
We need to unite behind a Democratic candidate. (District 45 has moved from a “leaning Republican” district to a “toss-up” district. By November 2018, let’s make it a solid Democratic district!)