Monday, February 19 , 2018, 3:29 am | Fair 49º


Capps’ Health-Care Forums Get Under Way Wednesday

The first of the sessions will be in Santa Barbara at First United Methodist Church; seating will be limited

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced Monday that she will host health-care forums in her 23rd District this week.

The forums, coming on the heels of Capps’ August recess from Congress, are scheduled in Santa Barbara on Wednesday, San Luis Obispo on Thursday and Oxnard on Friday.

The Santa Barbara forum will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu St.

Each session will be co-hosted by members of the local faith community, and will include local health-care experts and moderators. The sessions will specifically discuss the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (House Resolution 3200), legislation Capps has supported and that has stirred heated debate throughout the country.

The three free events will be held in local churches, and no signs or “other distinguishing materials” will be allowed, according to a Capps news release. The events are first come, first served, and seating will be limited. Local League of Women Voters organizations are helping administer the events.

In Santa Barbara, Capps, Pastor Hillary Chrisley of First United Methodist Church, Dr. Edward Bentley and Joyce Ellen Lippman, director of the Area Agency of Aging, will discuss health-care reform legislation and answer questions.

“It is encouraging that our congresswoman has returned from her hiatus and is willing to engage in dialogue with even a small contingent of her constituents. Throughout the country and here in Santa Barbara, extremely worried citizens have expressed increasing concern to tea party volunteers that HR 3200 — which Mrs. Capps supports — will ration their health care and create a larger crisis than it is supposed to fix,” Heather Bryden wrote on behalf of the Santa Barbara Tea Party & Culpepper Society in an e-mail to Noozhawk.

“A standing-room-only crowd of close to 500 at our Aug. 21 health-care forum revealed the need for far more debate — at the very least. The space and time allotted by Mrs. Capps to her Santa Barbara constituents on this life-and-death issue may not be adequate for the number of citizens and the concerns they have about her actions regarding any health care legislation.”

The event will be moderated by former Santa Barbara Mayor Hal Conklin, president of the California Center for Civic Renewal and co-author of Cinema In Focus.

Chrisley, senior minister at First United Methodist, confirmed Monday morning that her church’s fellowship hall seats 210 people. There is no “spillover” room for additional attendees to fit, she said.

Jonathan Levenshus, Capps’ legislative director, explained his office’s reasoning for utilizing the church as a location for the local forum.

“Congresswoman Capps attended a communitywide Interfaith Health Care Symposium at First United Methodist Church in October 2008. That event was well-attended and informative,” he said. “She looks forward to replicating the success of that event at Wednesday night’s information session on health insurance reform legislation pending in Congress.”

There have been several constituent-organized public meetings and protests about health-care reform throughout the Tri-County area during Congress’ recess.

In Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Tea Party and Culpepper Society and The Vandeventer Group sponsored forums, and hundreds of people attended each event. The meetings discussed a wide range of issues related to health-care reform and had panels or speakers sharing information and taking questions from the audience.

Meetings in Thousand Oaks, Ojai, Ventura and San Luis Obispo also attracted large crowds and triggered a lot of debate. The civility of the meetings differed greatly, and security, either from private firms or local law-enforcement agencies, had been present at most of the events.

Earlier in August, protests outside Capps’ offices in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo drew many people on both sides of the health-care reform debate, and all of those attendees called for Capps to schedule her own meetings. The protests took place during Congress’ summer recess, and Capps responded to them on her Web site.

“I welcome the public’s interest in this legislation, and I look forward to continuing this conversation with my constituents on the need for comprehensive health-insurance reform,” she said in a news release Monday. “I believe by working together we can ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.”

The information session in San Luis Obispo will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church, 1515 Fredericks St.

In addition to Capps, Pastor Jane Voigts, Dr. Rushdi Abdul Cader and Lippmann will speak and answer questions, and consultant Don Maruska will moderate. The church seats about 250 people, according to Capps’ office.

Oxnard’s event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Bethel AME Church, 855 S. F St. There, Capps will be joined by Dr. Robert Gonzalez, medical director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, and Katherine Raley, program manager of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. The evening will be moderated by consultant Tim Gallagher, former publisher and president of the Ventura County Star. Capps’ office said seating will be limited to 250 people.

Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks, has no official plans to hold a similar meeting for his constituents. “At this time, nothing is scheduled,” said Tom Pfeifer, Gallegly’s spokesman. Gallegly represents the 24th District, which includes part of the Santa Ynez Valley.

He opposes HR 3200, but supports some other health-care reform legislation and has co-sponsored the Empowering Patients First Act (House Resolution 3400).

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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