Friday, November 18, 2011

The Women’s Summit – Education and Health Care are Everyone’s Issue

Assemblymembers Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla, and Nancy Skinner hosted a Women’s Conference this week to discuss the impact of the economic downturn and the state budget crisis on services affecting women and children. I was honored to serve as one of the panelists.

The Summit was held against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote in California. I joined panelists from the fields of education, safety and health care to address issues impacting local constituencies and encouraged the Assemblymembers to continue their strong advocacy on behalf of the safety net. Over a 200 women including local officials, leaders and residents attended the November 14th event at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.

I discussed the one-third increase Contra Costa Health Services has seen in people seeking health care over the past two years. People in our county are faced with difficult choices, sometimes between basic provisions for themselves and their family or health care. People who wait too long to seek service can end up sicker, experiencing personal suffering and may need more extensive – and more expensive – care. Some patients come to us in the middle of cancer or other life-saving treatment and have lost their work-based insurance. We’ve responded to the crisis by ratcheting up our already significant work to increase efficiency and access to care -- leading to multiple improvements. For instance, by implementing an automatic reminder call system for mammogram appointments, we have reduced the no-show rate from 18 percent in one health center to almost 50 percent in another. In spite of our work and improvement, the need for support is still great.

Cutting funds during this crisis is not only unwise; it will only cost us more down the road. With state revenues lower than anticipated and additional cuts looming, we must remain vocal in letting our legislators know how great the need is during these difficult times.

Even our strongest supporters – such as the three Assemblymembers representing our county in Sacramento – need to hear from us so that they can continue to fight on behalf of our patients.

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