In the past weeks I phoned Jeff Denham’s office and was assured he was a “No” vote on the American Health Care Act. No Congressional hearings were held and no scoring or analysis was available. Despite Denham’s pledge that healthcare reform “will not be done in haste,” he abruptly changed his vote to “Yes.” What caused this?
Over 100,000 Stanislaus citizens are on Medi-cal, including 60 percent of local children under age 5. Denham says reimbursement rates for physicians must be improved and the number of doctors increased in the Valley. According to countyhealthrankings.org, Stanislaus ranks in the 40s among 58 California counties for overall health. Even with these kinds of statistics, he still voted for the AHCA.
Did his vote get anything done to improve county health? Rather than set higher reimbursement rates, the AHCA puts in place block grants and Medi-Cal caps, passing the responsibility to set rates and provide care to state governments. Political deals that can influence quick vote changes often help with issues important to the legislator (it passed by only 2 votes so his vote was key). Did he get a pledge to jumpstart the UC Merced medical school?
Did he get funding for residency programs at local hospitals?
Rather than get anything for his constituents, it is more likely he cut a political deal for himself. Was this a move to get re-elected? Or does he actually believe these cuts will help his mostly Medi-Cal based constituents? Come 2018 I bet we see support for him from Trump or Paul Ryan and big-time money. Denham, like most elected officials, is out for himself.
Greg Spiering, Modesto