Friday, April 25, 2014

Democratic House Candidate’s Campaign Is Perfect Model On How To Embrace Obamacare

From / Thursday, April, 24th, 2014, 12:24 pm

Over the past few months, I have featured James Kimber in a number of articles for this site. Kimber is the Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives in California’s 50th Congressional district. He is running against Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter. Initially, I wrote off any chance that Kimber would have at winning this seat, as the demographics and Hunter’s name recognition (thanks largely to his father) seemed to create too much of a deficit to overcome.

Anyway, there has been a concerted effort to get Hunter included in Bill Maher’s ‘Flip A District’ bracket. Hunter himself appeared on Maher’s show recently and reinforced the notion that he is nothing more than a Republican hack with no actual ideas. Meanwhile, Kimber has pounded the pavement, speaking personally to many of the district’s residents, whether they are Republican, Democrat or independent.

Throughout his campaign, Kimber has made sure to not shy away from the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he’s fully embraced the law and engaged people directly in conversation about the law’s benefits. Kimber provided me with some details about how he has been able to discuss the ACA in a positive manner to everyday citizens and make them see past their partisan objections to the law. By embracing the law, Kimber has been able to get others to embrace it as well.
Below is a story from Kimber regarding a young patient he saw, as well as the patient’s father. Kimber currently works as a healthcare provider and the patient’s father seemed disdainful of the health care law. 


As a healthcare provider with 30 years experience, I am in a unique position to talk about healthcare and I never miss an opportunity to do so. All of my patients come from the district (CA-50) which spans 6,000 square miles and crosses two counties. Because most people in the district are Republicans, they all feel the need to express their opinion for ‘Obamacare’ but I’m equally comfortable answering their questions and dispelling the misinformation. Recently one of my patients was in for a follow-up and his father asked what I thought. The patient, a 17 year old had fallen from his skateboard with no helmet and suffered a broken skull with some bleeding on the brain. It sounds worse than it was; the boy actually only spent a couple of days in the hospital before going home.

He was now in for his first follow-up and doing fine. His father asked me “what do you think of ‘Obamacare’ (in sort of a snide tone). I knew what the father meant, so I told him: “I think I know what you think of ‘Obamacare’ so let me tell you what I think. I think your son will never get insurance”. That really got the dad’s attention. I then told him… “You son suffered a traumatic brain injury. It doesn’t get much worse than that. You took him to the hospital so it’s well documented and that will follow him around forever so he’ll never get insurance. Or, if he could get insurance it will be so expensive he won’t be able to afford it; or if he could afford it, it won’t provide him with all the coverage he would need. BUT, because of the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing conditions are a thing of the past and your son can get insurance.” The father was quiet for a minute or two and then looked at me and said “I never thought of it that way”.

Kimber also provided another example of changing a leery person’s mind. This person was actually antagonistic towards Kimber to start off, and Kimber was able to not only change his point of view, but actually assisted him with getting an affordable health plan.

I was at a Meet & Greet in Ramona (city within the 50th District). I was talking when a man who saw the crowd pulled his car over to see what was going on. He made his way up when he heard there was a “Democrat” speaking and he came directly up to me and exclaimed “I’m a Republican”. I told him that was great but he didn’t seem convinced so with a finger in my chest, he said again “NO, I’m really Republican!” And I replied back “okay, I really need your vote!”. And with that, I asked him what he wanted to discuss and he replied “healthcare”. I thought, great. This is perfect. The subject I enjoy talking about the most. So I asked him what kind of insurance he had and he told me he was uninsured. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup! He was mid 50′s, self-employed with a family and home. He takes care of his family, able to pay his bills but just can’t afford insurance for himself. We had a tablet with us and we were able to bring up the Covered CA website and in just a few steps we were able to show him how much it would cost him for a policy with good coverage. He was shocked when he found how little it would cost. The only thing he was upset about was that he couldn’t sign up right away – this was back in August and he was upset that he had to wait until October when the enrollment season opened up (he has since signed up for coverage and is still very happy).

As far as Hunter is concerned, Kimber didn’t let him off the hook. He pointed out that Hunter’s idea to repal the ACA and do nothing else is pretty similar to some people who didn’t know when to stop fighting a war that was long over.

I literally talk about healthcare to the voters every day while Mr. Hunter continues to tell people “repeal and defund ‘Obamacare’. Mr. Hunter is like one of those WWII Japanese soldiers who kept fighting after the surrender because they thought the war was still going on. One Japanese soldier didn’t surrender until 1974! I think someone needs to tell Mr. Hunter the war on ‘Obamacare’ is over. I meet people daily who have listened to all the misinformation regarding the Affordable Care Act and have been misled. But I’m able to explain to them why this is working and how it benefits them. As a healthcare provider, I’ve seen the direct effects; in the first two months of 2014 I had more new patients than all of 2013 and these are all people who had been newly insured and had been without insurance for years.

Kimber is showing us how Democrats across the country can speak positively about the Affordable Care Act and not run scared from it. It is a powerful weapon for Democrats to use against their GOP opponents. Considering the positive impact it is having for millions of Americans, the ACA should be used as a campaigning tool and a major platform for Dems to run on. Kimber realized that a while ago and his campaign is a wonderful example of how to embrace Obamacare.

Block measure allowing community colleges to offer four year degrees clears Senate Education Committee

SB 850 has 10 Democratic and Republican co-authors

A bill aimed at closing California’s job skills gap by allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees where a local workforce need can be documented was approved today in the Senate Education Committee on an 8-0 bipartisan vote.

Senator Marty Block (SD-39), who authored the legislation – SB 850 – described his measure as a jobs bill. “California has a workforce skills gap,” Block said. “By 2025 our state will need one million more adults with four-year degrees. We need to use all of California’s resources – including our community colleges – to close that gap.” He added that more than 20 states since 1970 already allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees.

Block’s proposal is a pilot program that would allow 15 campuses from 15 different districts to offer one baccalaureate degree each starting Jan.1, 2015 and ending in July 1, 2023. Programs would begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year.

Baccalaureate degrees offered at the chosen campuses could not be duplicative of degrees offered by the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses. “It will be value added, not duplicative,” Block said. The state’s community college Board of Governors and Chancellor in consultation with the UC and CSU systems would select the participating districts and campuses.

Participating districts would also be required to submit a report to the Chancellor that examines the program’s success including:
    •    Percentage of students completing the baccalaureate degree,
    •    Fiscal self-sustainability of the pilot program,
    •    Difficulty in finding and paying instructors for the program,
    •    Decline in enrollments at the campuses in the regions served by the district as a result of the pilot program, and
    •    Number of students who received jobs in the field of study of their baccalaureate degree.

Block introduced SB 850 in January, and it is the third time he has introduced similar legislation.

Previous attempts included:
    •    AB 661 in 2011 which would have allowed Grossmont-Cuyamaca and the San Mateo Community College Districts to offer one baccalaureate pilot degree per campus. It was held on the inactive file on the Assembly Floor.

    •    AB 2400 in 2010 which would have authorized the San Diego, Grossmont-Cuyamaca and San Mateo districts to establish baccalaureate degree pilot programs. It was held in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

“We’re in a different time now,” Block said to explain why he believes his third attempt will succeed. “California is in a better position now to invest in closing our skills gap. We are in a fast-paced race that we can’t afford to lose. Community colleges can help us meet the challenge. It’s wishful thinking to believe we can meet the challenge of producing another 60,000 bachelor degrees a year without using community colleges, and the longer we delay in using them, the further behind we will fall.”

Block observed that earlier in the week, another report underscored California’s lagging baccalaureate completion rate. He cited Tuesday’s release by the Lumina Foundation which stated that nearly 22.5 percent of the state’s adults have attended college and earned credits but have not earned a degree. That places California at 23rd among all states in college attainment.

SB 850 is supported by veterans and business organizations as well as numerous community college districts. Supporters include AMVETS, American Legion, the California State Commanders Veterans Council, the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers and at least 13 community college districts including those in San Diego, Los Angeles, Napa, and Imperial Counties. Business supporters include the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the San Jose Silicon Valley and Oceanside Chambers of Commerce.

Block is chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 which deals with education financing and is a member of the Senate Education Committee. Prior to Block’s election to the Legislature, he served as president of the San Diego Community College District and as an administrator at San Diego State University.

Proudly representing the cities and communities of San Diego, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Coronado

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Endorses Congressman Scott Peters

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund announced its endorsement of Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) in his re-election bid to represent California’s 52nd Congressional District. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is the national advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“Planned Parenthood Action Fund is proud to endorse Congressman Scott Peters, a true advocate for women’s rights,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Congressman Peters continues to defend women’s access to contraception, cancer screenings and other quality health care needs.  We need more leaders like him who will stand up for women’s health care and speak out against extreme efforts to restrict women’s rights. We’re facing one of the most hostile environments for women our nation has seen, and we must elect leaders who will protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”

In February, Planned Parenthood Action Fund announced the Women are Watching (WAW) campaign to educate voters about candidates’ positions on women’s health. Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations have become a powerful and effective force by educating voters about where their candidates stand on women’s health issues. The majority of Americans believe that a woman and her doctor, not politicians, should be making health care decisions.

Polling from the 2012 election shows that access to safe and legal abortion, affordable birth control, and basic health care are motivating voting issues for women, who view them as core economic issues for their families.  An overwhelming majority of women voters trust Planned Parenthood political and advocacy organizations when they speak out about issues affecting the health of women.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Senate approves Block bill to speed human trafficking prosecutions and reduce victims’ trauma

SB 939 approved 33 to 30

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Senator Marty Block (SD-39) to streamline prosecution of human trafficking charges and reduce the trauma of victims who testify against their traffickers was approved Monday in the Senate.

SB 939 would permit the consolidation of serial human trafficking, pimping, and pandering charges into a single trial if all the involved jurisdictions agree. Frequently, victims are taken to multiple cities and counties for labor and commercial sex exploitation. Prosecution involves trials in each of the multiple locations where the crimes occurred with victims testifying during each of the trials. Current law allows for the consolidation of other serial sexual offenses occurring in multiple jurisdictions.

“Human trafficking is among the most despicable and odious of crimes because traffickers treat victims as property to be used and sold,” Block said. “SB 939 will save money for our court system and will eliminate the need for victims, witnesses, and defendants to travel to multiple counties to testify in court proceedings. Currently, victims must travel to each jurisdiction where the crimes occurred and testify multiple times in front of their traffickers. Multiple trials only repeat the trauma.”

Block noted that human trafficking is of particular concern in San Diego. “This is a priority issue for me as San Diego is ranked at number eight out of the top 13 high intensity regions for child prostitution in the nation,” Block said. “More troubling, human trafficking cases filed in San Diego federal court have increased by more than 600 percent over the past five years according to a U.S. attorney’s report last year,” he added.

While in the Assembly, Block successfully authored a measure to help stem human trafficking,  AB 2212, which allows local law enforcement to shut down sites engaged in human trafficking as a per se nuisance. It also allows financial penalties to be levied against the property owners of the sites to help fund programs for victims.

Last year, Block introduced SB 473 which would add human trafficking to the list of crimes used to define a criminal street gang under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. SB 473 would ensure that the prosecution and punishment of gang members exploiting human lives is comparable to the prosecution of gang members engaged in robbery and narcotic sales. It is now in the Assembly.

“We can’t fight this insidious crime one jurisdiction at a time. Human trafficking is a massive and lucrative enterprise that must be fought collectively by pooling our resources and multiplying the impact of every justice system effort,” Block said.

SB 939 is co-sponsored by the District Attorneys of Riverside, San Diego, Alameda and Orange Counties.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters  Endorse Sarah Boot for San Diego City Council District 2

SAN DIEGO – Today, Sarah Boot was endorsed by two prominent national environmental organizations in her run for San Diego City Council District 2. The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters evaluated all candidates in the race and determined that former prosecutor Sarah Boot’s commitment to environmental protection and her leadership on coastal issues make her the clear choice for environmentalists in the race.

Livia Borak, President of the League of Conservation Voters San Diego (LCVSD) said, “LCVSD is proud to endorse Sarah Boot for District 2. Sarah is an intelligent and thoughtful candidate with a strong conservation ethic. As a coastal district representative, we know Sarah will make clean water and beaches, resource protection, and preservation of open spaces a priority. We're looking forward to continued support of Sarah, our future environmental champion.”

The Sierra Club issued a statement by Robert Holland of the San Diego Chapter saying, “The Sierra Club is pleased to announce our endorsement of Sarah Boot's campaign for San Diego's City Council. Sarah has a long history of supporting environmental causes and is committed to redirecting resources to preserve San Diego's beaches and bays. Sarah's commitment to advocating for renewable energy sources, safe drinking water, and clean beaches make her the environmentalist's choice for San Diego City Council.” 

Boot had this to say about her recent endorsements, “I’m especially proud on the 44th anniversary of Earth Day to announce the endorsement of my campaign by leaders in the environmental movement.” Boot added, “If elected, I am 100% committed to protecting our beaches and bays, guarding our open spaces, and serving as a voice for the coast.”