Public Comment

Assembly District 14 Candidate Statement: Phil Polakoff

Thursday May 22, 2008 - 10:40:00 AM

I am running for Assembly to help build a healthier California… to reform our healthcare system, clean up our environment, support our schools, make our communities safer, and build a strong local economy.  

As the only potential doctor in the Legislature, I will use my 35 years of experience—in healthcare delivery, occupational safety, environmental protection, community activism and business—to help make our state the very best that it can be. 


Health Care in Critical Condition 

Our country and our community faces a healthcare crisis that impacts many local families and threatens the next generation.  

In Contra Costa and Alameda Counties there are 56,000 children without health insurance. Families cannot get coverage, and those who have coverage worry they are just one severe illness away from bankruptcy.  

Real progress on health care in our state capitol has been deadlocked for years, despite general agreement that the state must move forward with some form of universal coverage and a broad set of reforms.  


The Only Family Physician in the Legislature 

One of the roadblocks to meaningful healthcare reform is a lack of direct experience in this complex field. If elected, I would be the only family physician serving in the State Assembly.  

I also have the unique perspective of having served for nearly a decade as a health policy consultant to the State Legislature. I have also worked with former Majority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle and State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi on some of the most complex health and insurance issues affecting consumers, patients and workers.  

Based on my experience serving families and working with policy makers at all levels, I have developed an agenda to bring meaningful reform in California:  

• Provide health care coverage for uninsured children.  

• Prevent insurance companies from dropping patients with costly medical conditions or refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  

• Increase health and safety inspections of imported foreign food and products.  

• Emphasize prevention to reduce chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  


A Focus on Real Results 

While I have always been committed to my Democratic ideals, I know that they must be backed up with real results in people’s lives. I don’t want ours to be the first generation to leave our children worse off than the opportunities we inherited.  

That’s why I have never been afraid to be on the front lines of making health care more affordable and accessible to patients and consumers. When I saw a need, I started a non-profit health clinic and pioneered treatment options for shipyard workers exposed to asbestos and other toxics that were affecting East Bay communities. I also led a consulting firm that helped local governments here in the East Bay improve health care for patients while controlling costs.  

In addition to taking my medical oath to protect patients first, I have always made sure patients and consumers were well informed. I authored several books on health care, wrote dozens of journal and newspaper articles and reached out to patients by hosting a radio show on KPFA focused on health issues for consumers.  

Based on my years of experience fighting for health care reform, I know that results don’t always come easily. But I know that through focus and determination—and by working together—we can turn around California’s ailing health care system.  


A Passion for the Environment 

I am also running for Assembly because I know we can do more to improve the health of our environment. I am a lifelong Sierra Club member, and I sit on the Board of Directors of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. In the State Assembly I will: 

• Fight global warming and crack down on polluters. 

• Work for better energy efficiency and green building standards. 

• Work for cleaner air and water standards. 

• Protect our parks, open spaces and ancient forests.  

• Protect endangered species. 

Protecting our environment and our way of life also hinges on promoting alternative transportation so that we get more cars off the roads. As your Assemblyman, I will fight for state funding for BART, carpool lanes, buses and ferries.  

We have a responsibility to future generations to never shy away from the most important battles that must be waged to protect the future health of our planet.  


Local Support 

I am proud to have a number of well regarded individuals supporting my candidacy, including six current or former members of the Berkeley City Council as well as the following prominent environmental leaders: 

• Sylvia McLaughlin, founder of Save the Bay. 

• Greg Haegle, national conservation director of a leading national environmental group. 

• David Roe, former senior legal counsel, Environmental Defense Fund. 

• Phil Berry, vice president and former president of a leading national environmental group. 

I would be honored to have your vote. By working together, we can bring about real health care reform, improve education for all California’s children, and retain California’s status as a leader in environmental reform.