Health Matters 2013: Rep. Raul Ruiz absent, hopes to hear about social responsibility

Dr. Raul Ruiz stood last year to address President Bill Clinton at the first Health Matters conference. Months later, the president flew back to California to endorse the emergency room physician for Congress.

This time around, the newly elected Congressman isn’t among the heavyweights who are talking about the future of the nation’s health at the second-annual “Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation,” held Tuesday at the La Quinta Resort and Club.

The former president, Chelsea Clinton, Deepak Chopra, Jillian Michaels, Humana Chairman Michael McCallister, and former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher are featured speakers.

Sen. Christopher Murphy from Connecticut was also on stage.

Ruiz, who was sworn into office earlier this month, was in meetings in Washington D.C., a spokeswoman told us. The House of Representatives is in session this week.

In an emailed response to questions from The Desert Sun, Ruiz said he hopes that conference leaders focus on “social responsibility and the role of the community” in improving health.

Three quick question-and-answers from that email with Rep. Raul Ruiz:

What would you would like to see addressed at the Health Matters conference?
In addition to an emphasis on personal responsibility for healthy living, I would like to see the Health Matters Conference focus on social responsibility and the role of the community in improving health care access and health education for all people.

Any thoughts on what has been accomplished since last year’s Health Matters conference?
I’m very pleased that the Clinton Health Matters Initiative is committed to improving health and wellness and fighting obesity in the Coachella Valley.

What will your “homework,” as President Clinton would say, be for the next year?
My goal is to continue the work I started as a doctor in the Coachella Valley and build coalitions within the community to identify ways we can improve access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and health education for all people.

UPDATE AT 2:20 P.M. TUESDAY:

Ruiz was featured in a brief video interview shown before a panel on “Healthy Communities,” which included the mayors of Coachella and Palm Springs.

Coachella Valley has one of the worst health care crises — both in terms of consequences and access to healthcare — in the nation, Ruiz said in the video.

Ruiz was grateful, he said, that Clinton chose to include the valley in his Health Matters initiative.

“If we can improve the health care access for everybody, not only in healthcare delivery but also in health education, then we can make the Coachella Valley and the surrounding areas one of the healthiest communities in the entire nation,” Ruiz said.