Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan spoke at the January 15 meeting of the American River Democrats club at their monthly meeting at Samurai Sushi. Dr. Pan represents the 9th district, which covers south Sacramento, Elk Grove, and down to Lodi. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010, and for two years served the 5th District, which covered Folsom and parts of East Sacramento County, before redistricting.
Pan stressed his message from 2010 was investing in jobs for middle class people with benefits, as well as in education, people and healthcare. He shared that the work of local clubs like the American River Democrats was crucial to the success of candidates and issues that are important to those goals.
Dr. Pan shared some of what he had been working on since being elected, such as enhancing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act by sponsoring a bill to allow people to keep their providers when plans change due to the ACA. He wants to work on eliminating fraud in the drug rehab program, while preserving the program and its benefits.
He spoke about the issue of hydraulic fracking, and how the recent bill to regulate the practice was perhaps not enough to cover the whole issue, but was at least a good start to provide a framework for regulation.
Education was also on the forefront of his mind. He wants to insure that new funding for the U.C. and C.S.U. systems goes toward reducing tuition and establishing middle class scholarships. Early education was also crucial. He stressed that the importance of universal preschool often is not shown in improved test scores, but in social skills that help keep kids on the right path throughout their educational careers.
Back to the topic of the Affordable Care Act and its impact over the years, he pointed out that the first few years may see an actual increase in some problems because many of the new people in the system could put a strain on resources, as they seek help for delayed issues they have been living with. There may even be an increase in emergency room visits as people with new insurance plans will now have easier access. It will be important to educate these new customers to use their primary care doctor for early help and checkups. It may take a few years to overcome this backlog, and efficiencies will be needed to help, but in the end the outcome will be much better.
Dr. Pan pointed out that in the old system, health care organizations were often most successful by denying care and avoiding having sick people in their systems. A true measure of success will be when health care companies advertise how well they can help sick people and treat disease – and actually try to bring in patients who need help, because they can deliver treatment best. There are features in the new system that reward successful and efficient treatment that will help spur this concept on.
Dr. Pan was warmly greeted by the crowd, and said that even though he no longer represented most of the people there, he always had fond memories of the help he got when running in 2010, and he would always try to help out when he could, even though his district had changed.