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Congressman Raul Ruiz

Representing the 36th District of California

Dr. Ruiz's First Year in Congress Reflects Commitment to Coachella Valley

January 6, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – As Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) concludes his first year in Congress, he has worked with members of both parties on behalf of small businesses, middle class families, veterans, students, and seniors across the Coachella Valley.

“It is a high honor to serve the people of California’s 36th district where I grew up. I am proud of the work we have completed over the last year,” said Dr. Ruiz. “I will fight every day to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those I serve. I am confident that by putting people above partisan politics and solutions above ideology we can solve our common problems and improve the lives of people across the Coachella Valley. I look forward to advocating for the community that has given me so much.”

See below Dr. Ruiz’s legislative and constituent services report:

Dr. Raul Ruiz

Dr. Raul Ruiz was elected to bring pragmatic, solutions-focused representation to California’s 36th District, and put aside the partisan political gamesmanship that paralyzed Washington for the past few years. In his first year in office, Congressman Ruiz upheld his promises to protect Social Security and Medicare, to improve government transparency, to work with both Democrats and Republicans and find solutions to our common problems, and worked to ensure veterans receive the benefits they have earned. He established a strong, independent record of working to improve the lives of his constituents.

What others are saying:

“Congressman Ruiz is a great member of Congress and he has his own, independent view” Senator Barbara Boxer

“At home, Ruiz has deployed his staff to resolve constituent problems with the healthcare law. He held several forums with military veterans to discuss problems securing benefits.” [Los Angeles Times, 01.06.14]

“If anybody in Congress understands the complexities of health care, it’s Ruiz, an emergency room doctor. To suggest that he’s against the Affordable Care Act is ludicrous… While we have embarked on a health care program that is mandated through federal law, it is comforting knowing that we have advocates like Ruiz who put practicality and promises before party line and will address the deficiencies and shortcomings of this mandate” [The Desert Sun, 11.20.13]

“You’d almost think that someone had stapled several resumes together and put them in Raul Ruiz’s file: magna cum laude at UCLA; three graduate degrees from Harvard (a medical degree and masters in public policy and public health); doctoring to poor people on three continents at home and in the poor reaches of the Coachella Valley, where his parents were migrants workers; an Army award for helping Haiti earthquake victims. And he plays trumpet and dances baile folklorico. Now he has exchanged one big white building, a hospital, for another one – the U.S. Capitol. A stripling of 40, Ruiz is a member of Congress, having defeated incumbent Republican Mary Bono Mack, and was named by Politico as a freshman most likely to succeed.” [Los Angeles Times, 01.23.13]

“Getting three degrees from Harvard and becoming a successful emergency room doctor just wasn’t enough for Raul Ruiz. In fact, the average three-day workweek of the Hill will probably seem like a vacation for Ruiz. Before he ran for Congress, the doctor was running a mentorship program, working in an ER, opening health clinics and running health education seminars for poorer communities. Ruiz, who unseated longtime Rep. Mary Bono Mack, figures to bring the same nonstop work ethic to Capitol Hill. Ruiz told POLITICO in November he has plans to work with everyone to get things done… Expect him to be an outspoken and important voice for the party on immigration issues.” [Politico, 01.03.13]

 

Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz—Legislative Accomplishments

Over the last year, Dr. Ruiz developed a strong, independent legislative record. When it comes to any vote he took in the House, his first question is always: “How will this help the people that I serve?”

Job Creation

Raul Ruiz introduces first bill, focused on jobs. In April 2013, Dr. Ruiz introduced his first bill aimed at attracting foreign investment and strengthening manufacturing in California and across the United States. The SelectUSA Authorization Act of 2013, which is part of the “Make it in America” plan in the U.S. House of Representatives, will authorize $17 million for fiscal year 2013 for the SelectUSA initiative.

Dr. Ruiz co-sponsored the Bring Jobs Home Act. This bill would cut taxes for U.S. companies that move jobs and business operations to America from another country. The bill ends a tax deduction for companies that outsource jobs and business activity.

Veterans/Armed Services

• Dr. Ruiz introduced bipartisan legislation that passed the House as a package of bills to address the veterans’ claims backlog. Specifically, Dr. Ruiz’s bill would take steps to help ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the needed information from other agencies to accurately process claims to reduce the backlog.

Dr. Ruiz teamed up with Republican Representative Chris Gibson (NY-19) to introduce legislation to achieve integrated electronic health records between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense Department. In an op-ed published in The Desert Sun, Dr. Ruiz and Rep. Gibson wrote “As a doctor and a soldier, we know we can do better than we’re doing today, and that’s why we teamed up to better help our veterans transition from military to civilian life. Together, we introduced the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act. This legislation is part of a longer-term fix. By bridging the gap between the Veterans Affairs electronic health records and Department of Defense electronic health records, this bill will ensure more efficient and effective delivery of veterans’ health care.”

Dr. Ruiz voted to improve services to help homeless veterans. The bill Dr. Ruiz voted for would establish a special assistant for Veterans’ Affairs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under the measure, the special assistant would be responsible for ensuring veterans fair access to HUD housing and homeless assistance programs.

Dr. Ruiz introduced legislation to improve efficiency in veterans’ claims appeals process. Dr. Ruiz introduced a bill to improve the opportunity for veterans to use video conferencing for hearings before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals making the process easier and more efficient.

Seniors

• Dr. Ruiz voted against the House budget to end Medicare. Dr. Ruiz voted against the Ryan budget that would have ended the Medicare guarantee for seniors, provided a tax break for millionaires and a tax increase for middle class families and cost the economy jobs.

• Dr. Ruiz introduced new legislation to protect seniors from health care fraud. The Protecting Seniors from Healthcare Fraud Act of 2013 aims to educate seniors on the most common healthcare fraud schemes to help them avoid falling victim to fraud, and to encourage them to report fraud to law enforcement.

• Dr. Ruiz fights to prevent fraud in the health care exchanges. Dr. Ruiz and 32 of his colleagues in Congress sent a letter to the Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez urging the federal government to devote more resources to preventing scam artists from abusing the insurance exchange.

Deficit Reduction

• Dr. Ruiz co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to save up to $10 billion per year by requiring federal agencies to buy products and services in bulk. The Buy Smarter and Save Act of 2013 would require the President to establish a goal of saving through strategic sourcing principles, to call on each agency to establish a specific goal for savings that would equal the government-wide target and to call for guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to address data collection, savings metrics and criteria, and procedures to hold agencies accountable for meeting the goals.

• Dr. Ruiz co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that eliminated duplication within the federal government to save billions. The Duplication Elimination Act of 2013 would make it easier for Congress to eliminate duplication and overlap across the federal government. All the savings from this bill must be used for deficit reduction.

Women’s Issues

• Dr. Ruiz voted for the Violence Against Women Act. Dr. Ruiz voted for the strongest version of the Violence Against Women Act to date. The legislation contained stringent protections for immigrant women, Native American women and women in the LGBT community. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been a cornerstone in federal efforts to reduce acts of violence against women and prosecute offenders and is credited for making Americans more aware of the domestic violence issue.

LGBT Rights & Equality

• Dr. Ruiz Co-Sponsored Bill To Prohibit Employment Discrimination On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity. On October 30, 2013 Ruiz co-sponsored H.R. 1755, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, federal law only bans employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability, but not for sexual orientation or gender identity. Right now, workers in 33 states can legally be fired, denied a promotion, or harassed on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

• Dr. Ruiz Endorsed Bipartisan LGBT Anti-Bullying Legislation. In 2013, Ruiz announced his endorsement and co-sponsorship of H.R. 1199, the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013. The bill instructs local educational agencies to establish policies that prevent and prohibit bullying and harassment. These policies must specifically enumerate what is prohibited, and must include bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. “This legislation is a firm step toward strengthening our anti-bullying efforts in the 36th district and across the country,” said Dr. Ruiz. “It is critical that our anti-bullying policies incorporate the measures necessary to protect our LGBT youth and every student. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the isle to advance measures that stop bullying and protect our students no matter their background, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” [Rep. Ruiz, press release, 9/26/13]

Native American Issues

• Dr. Ruiz Joined The Native American Caucus To Advocate For Tribes in CA-36th and across the country. Dr. Ruiz joined the Congressional Native American Caucus to work in a bipartisan manner to work on behalf of tribes in California’s 36th district.

• Dr. Ruiz co-sponsored bipartisan legislation known as the “Carcieri fix” to open economic opportunities for Indian tribes. This bill would allow tribes to take land into trust, thereby creating greater economic opportunities for the tribes.

Immigration

• Dr. Ruiz co-sponsored the house version the comprehensive immigration reform bill. This bill has already passed the Senate in a bipartisan manner and Dr. Ruiz has called for House leadership to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

• Dr. Ruiz meets with President Obama to discuss comprehensive immigration reform. Dr. Ruiz met with President Obama and discussed how the House can build on the bipartisan work of the Senate and pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes an earned path to citizenship, secures our borders, promotes fairness, protects workers and businesses, and helps strengthen the economy.

Wildfires

• Dr. Ruiz introduced bipartisan legislation to allow more federal money to prevent fires. This bipartisan bill would allow states to use a portion of the money Congress sets aside for wildfire-recovery efforts projects to prevent wildfires in the first place. The goal of the bill is to encourage states to do prevention work before the fire season gets under way to minimize the risk when the fires do strike.

The Salton Sea

• Dr. Ruiz successfully advocates for $200,000 line item in President budget for Salton Sea restoration. Senator Barbra Boxer credited Dr. Ruiz with advocating for the $200,000 request for Salton Sea restoration from the Army Corp. of Engineers included in the Obama administration’s budget proposal.

District Events and Roundtables

Dr. Ruiz isn’t willing to wait for Washington to act to find solutions to our common problems – instead he has worked to bring our communities together to solve issues across the district. Dr. Ruiz has facilitated coordination between veteran service organizations to help bring better care to our veterans in the district; help job seekers connect with hiring businesses; provide information about the implementation of Covered California; and assist local municipalities, businesses, and tribal entities cut through bureaucratic red tape. Dr. Ruiz will continue to work with local businesses, community and tribal leaders, law enforcement, and individuals throughout CA-36 to ensure he is hearing their needs and advocating effectively for them in D.C.

Immigration March in Coachella - March 23, 2013
Dr. Ruiz marched with his constituents advocating for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

"Conversations with the Congressman" in Palm Springs – March 23, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met one-on-one with any constituent who came into the office to discuss the issues most important to them.

Address to the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce – April 4, 2013
Dr. Ruiz addressed the Chamber and discussed issues affecting local businesses, and how his office can help foster economic development in the area.

Meeting with the Remote Area Medical Group – April 10, 2013
Dr. Ruiz volunteered to provide medical services to help those who cannot afford to seek basic health care, and who rely on the annual Remote Area Medical Group event.

“Conversations with the Congressman” Event in Hemet – April 30, 2013
Dr. Ruiz set aside time to meet with any constituent who came into his Hemet office to discuss the issues most important to them.

Committee on Latino Immigration Event in Palm Springs – May 1, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with constituents in Palm Springs advocating for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Visit to the Banning/Beaumont Fire Command Center – May 2, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with fire fighters and law enforcement at the command center to discuss their efforts in battling the pass fire.

Keynote address with the Navy League in Palm Springs – May 13, 2013
Dr. Ruiz addressed the members of the Navy League to discuss what he can do, as a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, to help veterans in the District.

Mobile Home Housing Forum – May 23, 2013
Dr. Ruiz joined a forum where constituents voiced their concerns related to housing, the economy, and health care.

Dr. Carreon Foundation Emergency Preparedness Event – May 30, 2013
Dr. Ruiz spoke about the importance of emergency preparedness and his experiences as an Emergency Medicine physician.

Address to the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce – July 13, 2013
Dr. Ruiz addressed the members of the Chamber to discuss issues affecting local businesses, and how his office can help foster economic development in the area.

Spoke at the California Teachers Association Annual Conference – July 14, 2013
Dr. Ruiz discussed the importance of community involvement in education and his commitment to improve children’s access to technology in the classroom.

Meeting with the Hemet Action Group – July 16, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with Hemet residents concerned with rising crime in Hemet and the surrounding area. He also spoke about what he is doing to fight for resources to help hire additional officers. They also discussed small business development.

Mountain Fire Base Camp Action Update – July 20, 2013
Dr. Ruiz was briefed on the response to the Mountain Fire in July and met with first responders on location.

Anza Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting – July 27, 2013
Dr. Ruiz attended the meeting and gave the keynote address celebrating their joint success in preventing a 50% increase in their electric rate.

Address to the Coachella Chamber of Commerce – July 29, 2013
Dr. Ruiz addressed the members of the Chamber to discuss issues affecting local businesses, and how his office can help foster economic development in the area.

Palm Springs Veterans Forum – August 14, 2013
Dr. Ruiz held the first of four veterans forums across the district where veterans, service members, and families asked questions, brainstormed solutions, and ranked what issues they felt were most pressing to them in the community.

"Conversations with the Congressman" Event in Hemet – August 19, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met one-on-one with any constituent who came into the office to discuss the issues most important to them.

Meeting with the Pass Economic Development Agency and CAP Riverside – August 22, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with city and county officials to discuss what economic growth opportunities are available in the region, what grants are available to jumpstart that growth, and how proposed legislation could affect local efforts.

Beaumont Veterans Forum – August 22, 2013
Dr. Ruiz held the second of four veterans forums across the district where veterans, service members, and family asked questions, brainstormed solutions, and ranked what issues they felt were most pressing to them in the community.

Indio Veterans Forum – September 5, 2013
Dr. Ruiz held the third of four veterans forums across the district where veterans, service members, and family asked questions, brainstormed solutions, and ranked what issues they felt were most pressing to them in the community.

Inland Empire Economic Partnership Roundtable – September 6, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with local business leaders to discuss how businesses in the Inland Empire can help each other grow and what his office can do to help.

Hemet Veterans Forum – September 6, 2013
Dr. Ruiz held the last of four veterans forums across the district where veterans, service members, and family asked questions, brainstormed solutions, and ranked what issues they felt were most pressing to them in the community.

Riverside County Veterans Advisory Committee Legislative Meeting – September 13, 2013
Dr. Ruiz met with local Veterans to discuss issues important to them and how the office can assist them.

Mobile Health Clinics Welcoming Address in Palm Springs – September 15, 2013
Dr. Ruiz gave the welcoming address at the three-day conference in Palm Springs, where members of the Mobile Health Clinics Association discussed how to reach residents of the region where access is impeded by lack of medical centers, doctors, and transportation.

CVEP Annual Economic Sessions – November 1, 2013
Dr. Ruiz attended the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership Economic Summit where leaders discussed how the new healthcare law would impact hospitals, providers, and community members.

Veterans Initiative Summit at UCR Palm Desert – November 2, 2013
As a culmination of the four veterans forums held across the district, Dr. Ruiz hosted the District’s first-ever Veterans Summit, where representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans’ service groups met with veterans in the community to devise and implement local solutions to the issues brought up during the summer’s forums.

Covered California Enrollment and Information Session in Coachella – November 3, 2013
Dr. Ruiz hosted an information session, bringing the Covered California Executive Director, Peter Lee, and enrollment counselors from the Borrego Community Health Foundation together to answer constituent questions and provide much-needed enrollment counseling.

Shut Down Drunk Driving Initiative Press Conference – November 6, 2013
Dr. Ruiz joined local law enforcement and valley leaders to announce a community initiative to put an end to the drunk driving epidemic in the District.

Desert AIDS Project Get Tested Coachella Valley Initiative Conference – November 7, 2013
Dr. Ruiz joined community health leaders in support of the $5 million initiative whose goal is to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Coachella Valley.

Total events and meetings with constituent groups throughout California’s 36th District total over 160 in the last year.


District Success Stories

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grants

When Dr. Ruiz held forums in the Hemet area, one of the top issues consistently raised was the area’s growing crime problem. Dr. Ruiz wanted to focus on, and direct resources to, this issue. Dr. Ruiz was pleased to announce in September 2013, $750,000 in grants to support four local police departments. The City of Coachella was awarded $250,000; Desert Hot Spring Police Department was awarded $125,000; the Hemet Police Department was awarded $250,000; and the Indio Police Department was awarded $125,000. These funds will be used to hire new officers for their respective departments to help keep our communities safe.

Economic Development Agency Grant for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership accelerator campus

Dr. Ruiz helped secure $1,000,000 in funds for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership Business Incubator/Accelerator Campus. The campus will help local small businesses get started with reduced rent and other assistance. The end goal will be to help develop a manufacturing ecosystem in the region.

Community Enrollment in Covered California

Dr. Ruiz hosted multiple enrollment workshops – bringing together enrollment counselors, Covered California partners, and community leaders to ensure that those in our community who need it most are able find affordable health insurance that is right for them and their families. With the help of Dr. Ruiz’s office, the Covered California Region that includes California’s 36th Congressional District posted enrollment numbers at the end of October placing it among the top three Regions in all of California.

Veterans Initiative

Dr. Ruiz’s emergency medicine background taught him the importance of actions over words. This meant that calling on the VA to swiftly put an end to the claims backlog was not enough; Dr. Ruiz took action into his own hands, involving the community to help begin the process of solving some of the most pressing problems that our veterans face. The Veterans Initiative began with a series of community forums, where veterans from across the District provided input on what specific challenges they faced.

Taking these results, Dr. Ruiz hosted a district-wide Veterans Summit on November 2, bringing veteran service organizations (VSOs), officials from the regional Department of Veterans Affairs office, top officials from the Loma Linda Veterans Hospital, and local veterans together for the first time ever in the District. From the Summit, Dr. Ruiz’s office put together a Veteran’s Resource Book specifically for the 36th District, to help connect veterans with the various programs and non-profits available to them. Also coming out the Summit were the Veterans Transportation Initiative to help veterans get the transportation services they need to get treatment at the Loma Linda facility, as well as the Veterans University. The Veterans University, a lecture and workshop series, will help our veterans on a range of topics including accessing benefits, obtaining employment and addressing the educational items identified at the forums and summit. Dr. Ruiz looks forward to implementing these two programs in 2014.

Casework

One of the most important roles of a Member of Congress is to help people interact with the federal government. Dr. Ruiz is known for working closely with constituents to answer questions, solve problems, or cut through bureaucratic red tape.

Dr. Ruiz has helped solve constituent issues in areas such as Social Security and Medicare claims, IRS disputes, getting veterans the benefits they have earned, and navigating the new health insurance marketplace Covered California.

Total Cases Opened: 771
Total Cases Closed: 610

Current Casework Money Total: $1,145,258
Veterans Affairs: $808,926
IRS: $24,332
Social Security/Medicare: $312,000

Notable cases in which Congressman Ruiz was able to help include:

Veterans Affairs:

  • Mr. Paull: Mr. Paull, a veteran from Cathedral City, was scheduled for a knee replacement on Nov. 4, but unfortunately was forced to cancel because of a family emergency. When he called to reschedule, he was told that at best the wait would be two months. Dr. Ruiz intervened to ensure Mr. Paull got the treatment he needed in a timely basis. The procedure was rescheduled for the following week and carried out with success.
  • Mr. Beaver: Mr. Beaver, a veteran from Palm Springs, was unaware that he could receive VA benefits in addition to his government pension. With the help of Dr. Ruiz, he had his VA claim processed within two months and has received the benefits he earned since August.
  • Mr. Shauer: Mr. Shauer, a veteran from Banning, stopped receiving his VA pension after his wife passed away and he received a small insurance lump sum payment. He appealed his case with the VA to reinstate his pension for three years with no success. A month after he contacted Dr. Ruiz to intervene on his behalf, Mr. Shauer had his pension reinstated and was also granted a large retroactive payment.

Small Business:

  • Local Eye Surgery Center: The owner of a local Eye Surgery Center in the District reached out to Dr. Ruiz’s office for assistance with Medicare payment processing. They were performing vision corrective surgery for several months without receiving compensation through Medicare. Facing the need to close the facility due to a lack of funds, Dr. Ruiz was able to facilitate the processing of payments within two weeks. They eventually received back payments in the amount of $300,000 and have not had any issues with Medicare since.

Immigration

  • Mrs. Dungca: Mrs. Dungca, an immigrant from the Philippines, arrived in the US in 2003 under a special H1B Visa to work as a science teacher in Blythe, CA. Her three sons traveled with her to the US and have been derivative beneficiaries of her legal status. In 2011, due to a lapse in paperwork, she was denied a renewal of her H1B Visa and has been since unsuccessfully filing various motions to remain legally in the US. In August, Mrs. Dungca reached out to Dr. Ruiz in desperation, asking for a miracle because she and her three sons were out of options and faced returning to the Philippines. Dr. Ruiz gathered letters of community support, and attached those letters along with his own, asking that the Department of Homeland Security review their decision. Because of these efforts, they reopened the case, reviewed the decision, found that they made an error and that the family was approved to remain in the US. When Mrs. Dungca heard the news, her family was overcome with joy. This has had an impact not just on the life of Mrs. Dungca, but on the city of Blythe as a whole, since Mrs. Dungca is the only AP Biology teacher at Palo Verde High School.

Constituent Responsiveness

Since Dr. Ruiz has been in office, his office has responded to 20,525 pieces of mail, calls, and/or email. Through his mail program, his office reached out to 111,197 different individuals to increase awareness of federal resources and legislative activity in Congress.

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