|Dear Friends and Supporters,
As someone who has spent his entire career practicing and teaching medicine— in academic medical centers, community health clinics and rural clinical practice, I have seen and been a part of some of the greatest medical advances seen in the life of mankind. Technology and techniques have improved both quantitatively and qualitatively since I first entered practice in 1980. I am proud of my profession, and what it has done and will do for the women, men and children of America.
But I also know, from both observation and experience, that health care in America is not nearly as good or as universal as it can and must be. Access to quality care is uneven, and is driven by various factors, including affordability, geography, transportation, and education. The costs of our healthcare are outrageous, and unnecessary. I have served as a Visiting Professor in France, Germany, England, Finland, and Switzerland and found their quality of care is equal or better at half the price.
Through the heroic efforts of President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, and it resulted in at least an additional twenty million people gaining health insurance coverage. Moreover, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against persons with pre-existing conditions. Children can stay on their parents’ health policies until the age of 26.
But much more must be done. Too many remain uninsured, costs continue to escalate, insurance companies are not regulated strictly enough, and access to affordable and quality health care remains a real issue for too many people. The pharmaceutical industry has created hardships for our families by rigging drug prices. And, to make matters worse, the gains made through “Obamacare” are under constant threat from the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans.
I have spent the months since last November’s disappointing election results thinking about all of this, as well as the connections between public health and the health of our environment—the quality of the air we breath, the water we drink, and the direct impact on peoples’ lives caused by climate change. And, I have wrestled with the questions—day and night—where and how might I have the best chance of affecting such matters for the better?
At the same time, I have been impressed—inspired even—by the explosion of positive civic engagement we’ve seen across the country, in cities, suburbs, towns and villages in every region of our country, including right here in California’s Fourth Congressional District. Some people are deciding to run for public office—local, state and national; others are concentrating on pressuring those already in office. Still others are charting courses that are aimed at having an individual impact—through teaching, organizing, writing, participating, agitating, lobbying, contributing hard earned dollars to their favorite causes, and so much more.
My reflections over the past 4 months, as well as many conversations with my wife, family, friends and associates, have led me to conclude that I can have more of an impact on health policy and health care, as a practicing physician, researcher, writer, lecturer, and advocate than I can as a political candidate. I can, as an individual, concentrate my attention laser-like on a few key issues and questions, rather than have to spread my concerns across the broad spectrum of issues a campaign would dictate.
I have, therefore, decided not to be a candidate for the U.S. Congress or any other elective office in 2018. This was not an easy decision, because I believe that the incumbent, Rep. Tom McClintock, is bad for our region and bad for our country. But there are other able, engaged and committed men and women in every part of the 4th CD who can take the fight to Mr. McClintock quite effectively, and I will support enthusiastically whoever emerges as his challenger in the fall of next year.
In the meantime, I will focus on health care and public health issues while also encouraging and working with the thousands of active citizens of our beautiful mountain counties who are determined to make a difference in the life of our communities and our nation.
In closing, I want to thank everyone who helped in my 2016 campaign—the volunteers who walked precincts, made phone calls, put up yard signs, attended coffees and rallies, gave money and worked their hearts out on my behalf and on behalf of a more civil, progressive and sane Congress. The fight continues, and we’ll all stay in it together.
Thank you, and with warmest best wishes,