Assemblyman Jim Wood praises ACA in town hall meeting

Ten members of Indivisible Ferndale (IF) attended Assemblyman Jim Wood’s town hall meeting this past Friday in Eureka.  Prior to the start of the meeting, IF members were able to connect with Indivisible Eureka and Indivisible Fortuna members for the first time.  We are stronger together!

Read the Times-Standard article below.

North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) spoke at Eureka High School on Friday evening to discuss how state, national and local issues impacted Humboldt County. Natalya Estrada—The Times-Standard

Nearly 200 people turned up for North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood’s town hall meeting at Eureka High School on Friday.

Before speaking about state and regional issues, Wood addressed the status of House Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

“They’re saying Democrats are responsible for this bill not passing, even though we know there’s a Republican majority in Congress,” he said. “Math is hard.”

Wood (D-Healdsburg) reflected on the importance of the ACA and said that it represented insurance coverage for more than 5 million people but for Congress it was seen as a line item.

“I worked with Republican leader Chad Mayes (R-Riverside) and the two of us, representing two different parties, went to talk with members of Congress about what this health bill would actually mean for Californians,” Wood said. “Now Mr. Mayes, my colleague and I don’t agree on a lot of things, but what we did agree on was the importance to protect and save what we could for our state.”

Eureka resident Patrick Eytchison, 81, said the ACA saved his life in 2014 when he had to undergo a $100,000 medical procedure in Santa Rosa.

“(My wife and I) almost lost our house,” Eytchison said. “We’re on limited income and we rely on state retirement and Social Security every month. Without ACA I probably wouldn’t be alive today.”

Eytchison’s wife Elizabeth added that ACA paid for transportation back to their home because she was unable to drive from being blind in her left eye.

Traveling far distances for health care was something Wood said he fought to stop through critical access hospitals in Humboldt County with 25 or fewer beds. Hiring doctors was not enough to support small hospitals in rural areas and Wood emphasized the importance of having nurses, specialists and retaining health professionals within the area.

Wood said before the ACA, 17 percent of Californians were uninsured. That number, according to Wood, dropped to 7.1 percent under the ACA.

“California is very tied to federal funding for health care. We receive $73 billion a year. To lose $24.5 billion through this new bill would have been catastrophic for us on so many levels,” Wood said.

Local issues

Wood also addressed Humboldt County issues, including local health care problems, the condition of roads and highways, access to broadband internet, and cannabis regulation.

“Humboldt County is far ahead of the game toward the regulation process, taxation and land use for marijuana and the adult use act,” Wood said.

He said cities like Fortuna had the right to set certain cannabis rules and regulations for their jurisdictions and in order to challenge those rules, people would need to voice their opinions locally.

Arcata resident Cameron Slader said Wood’s town hall meeting made him hopeful when it came to the environment and that was refreshing to see someone put a lot of emphasis on reducing carbon footprints on a local level.

“I think he can do a lot of good. I didn’t fill out a question sheet because I was late coming here, but I’m glad he addressed it and has future plans for the environment,” Slader said.

Wood said he wanted to use 20 percent of the state’s Cap and Trade funds to help protect and invest in local forests in Trinity, Del Norte, Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

“We live in the most majestic forests in the state and often times most of those state funds go toward urban areas instead of rural,” he said. “We need our fair share of resources.”

Natalya Estrada can be reached at 707-441-0510. 

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