As an emergency room doctor, I saw the best and worst of what happens in our health care system. I served with talented physicians, nurses and other medical staff who made critical decisions that often saved lives. But I also saw what happens when patients cannot afford the health care that would restore their well-being, spare them incredible financial hardship, and allow them to live with dignity.
These disparities compelled me to seek public office and fight to make a difference. Since my election in 2016, I’ve focused on legislation that expands access to health care services, pushes for more efficiency and ensures transparency.
We have a long way to go, but we have made progress. For example, I’m deeply concerned about the dire shortage of doctors and medical professionals in the Central Valley, and authored Assembly Bill 422 to help address it. AB 422 made permanent Fresno State’s ability to award doctorate of nursing degrees, and it allows other California State University campuses to do so.
I also authored AB 2311 for the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program, which is a leading producer of family medicine physicians, especially those who are bilingual and can work in poor and underserved communities.
I’ve strived to address health care in other areas, such as the opioid crisis that has gripped our nation. I authored AB 1048, which gives pharmacists a more discerning role in dispensing and tracking opioid prescriptions, while maintaining a doctor’s ability to provide appropriate care to patients. This law also eliminates the requirement that pain be assessed as a vital sign. The goal is to help reduce the amount of opioids in our communities.
In 2018, I was honored to serve as co-chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage. Our work included accepting a vital report called “A Path to Universal Coverage and Unified Health Care Financing in California.” It identified short and long-term approaches to the federal Affordable Care Act.
As the 2019 legislative session began, I introduced AB 4, “Health4All,” making all undocumented adults eligible for Medi-Cal services, and will broaden coverage to those under 26. Health care always will be a priority for me as we all work toward a better, healthier future for all.