(via Los Angeles Times)
By Ed Hernandez
State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) is an optometrist and chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Last week, I went looking for the real Obamacare. Not the one that’s been vilified by President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, but the Obamacare that’s otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, the one providing health coverage to more than 5 million people in California.
I found it in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where the air quality ranks as the worst in the nation, where diabetes is common, where the opioid epidemic rages, where work in the agricultural fields breaks down a body before its time. I found it in the voices of patients, doctors, nurses, clinic directors and hospital administrators.
I and colleagues from the California Senate Health Committee traveled to Bakersfield last week to hold a hearing with a simple purpose: to learn how the ACA has changed lives in one of the most distressed regions in America.
Bakersfield is one of the reddest areas of the state, and it’s represented in Congress by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is among the Republicans attempting to repeal the ACA. But we weren’t there to point fingers or underscore an irony. We chose the location for the simple reason that, before the ACA, few regions in the country had more gaps in healthcare than Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties.