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Assemblyman Jim Wood Speaks Out to California Health Agents

by John Hansen

Assemblyman Jim Wood is a Democrat from the 2nd District. He was formerly a dentist for 27 years in Cloverdale, California. This led him to be very interested in public policy regarding access to resources and services of rural communities. He commented that California has been a leader and role model for the country with regard to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Wood reminisced about his friend, Bob Gene, who is a licensed agent selling health insurance in Berny, California. He said that his friend was very helpful for him with regards to choosing the right California benefits.

Jim Wood is new to the health committee, but he has jumped in with both feet. He became chairman on March 7 and had his first hearing on March 10. He commented that so far he has had to be “a bit reactive” due to the fact that he was just thrown in.

He commented on Assembly Bill 533 which aims at protecting consumers from surprise out-of-network bills that people receive from getting care at an in-network facility. As a former dentist, he understood both sides of the debate. He questioned, “How do we solve this in a way that’s not punitive?” He praised the author of AB 533, Rob Bonta, for wisely getting all the stakeholders in the room to work on solving the problem.

Assemblyman Wood was very hopeful that less stringent term limits would help Sacramento accomplish more going forward. Now, Assemblymen can serve for 12 years, rather than being limited to 6 years. He described how bad things were, “In the last 13 years, we’ve had 10 health committee chairs.”

He said that the State Congress budgets on a yearly basis, but this is a “bad idea” when legislators really need to be thinking more long term. Wood was hopeful that the longer term limits would encourage more long-term thinking in the State Congress. He said that to get things done, “We need a governor and two houses willing to work together.”

One of Wood’s long term goals for health care included better prevention and better chronic disease management. He said, “The goal is healthier, more productive lives in the long run.”