What They’re Watching: Senator Holly Mitchell

Senator Holly Mitchell is a member of the California Senate Committee on Health as well as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss voting and civic engagement.

“Well, the panel I was just on with my colleague Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, and the focus was really looking at midterm elections and, you know, why it’s important to engage politically around a policy issue. And so, recognizing the role that the federal government really has in allowing California to do what we need to do support our constituents is critical. I chair the Senate Budget Committee and so I have an intimate, working knowledge and understanding about how important it is through our federal waivers, through the federal matching funds, through the Affordable Care Act. So, all of those actions are really important and have a direct impact on my ability to provide services to the constituents I represent.

So, we’ll be looking at Title X actions at the federal level. At the state level we’ll be looking at how we continue to provide important expansion to services for Californians who remain uninsured. Although the Affordable Care Act allowed us to cut our uninsured rate by more than half, there’s still a segment of working Californians who don’t have access. That’s a conversation that has started in the last couple of years and I’m sure with the new administration coming into play — we’ll elect a new governor in November — we will see where that takes us. That’s where I’ll be focused and putting my shoulder to the grindstone to move California forward.

So I opened up the discussion today talking about civic engagement and voting. And I think people tend to separate that action from the work they do. But anyone who is involved in the health care delivery system in this state has to understand the important role public policy decisions, that are made everyday at the federal, state, and local level, have on their ability to do their job and do it well. And there are people serving in those elected bodies everyday who make those decisions, either in a vacuum or based on a place of knowledge and understanding and empathy. And so, everyone at this conference, I opened up saying, ‘you’ve got to engage in these midterms and help your friends and families and coworkers connect the dots between voting and access to critical healthcare services. There is a direct line that connects the two.’”