California is experiencing a severe shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in the rural and Central Valley regions of the state. Our state has one of the lowest primary care physician to patient ratios in the nation, and it is estimated that California needs an additional 8,243 primary care physicians by 2030 – a 32 percent increase.
What's more, 75 percent of medical students graduate with debt with an average of $170,000 in student loans. And inadequate funding for residency programs exacerbates access problems—every year, hundreds of graduating medical students don't find a residency slot in California to continue their training, forcing talented young doctors who want to stay and practice in California to other states and communities. A robust and well-trained primary care workforce is essential to meeting the health care demands of all Californians and remains one of the California Medical Association's (CMA) top priorities.
Explore financial savings and assistance from the following CMA-supported programs.
CalHealthCares Loan Repayment Program
Eligible physicians may apply for a loan repayment up to $300,000 in exchange for a five-year service obligation. Eligible dentists may apply for either a loan repayment up to $300,000 in exchange for a five-year service obligation or a Practice Support Grant up to $300,000 in exchange for a ten-year service obligation. All awardees are required to have their patient caseload comprised of a minimum of 30 percent Medi-Cal beneficiaries and within 10 percent of the Medi-Cal patient caseload proposed in their application. Learn more and apply.
Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program
Award recipients receive up to $105,000 to repay educational loans in exchange for a three-year service commitment in a medically under-served area of the state, and since its inception. This program was created in 2002 under a bill sponsored by CMA, and the program has awarded more than $17 million to over 220 individuals. Learn more and apply.
Song-Brown Healthcare Workforce Training Programs
In 2016, the California legislature passed a budget that committed $100 million over three years ($33 million each year) through the Song-Brown program, which aims to increase the number of students and residents receiving quality primary care education and training in areas of unmet need throughout California. The California Healthcare Workforce Policy Commission awarded upwards of $30.5 million to support more than 175 primary care residency slots for the 2017 cycle, and a record number of applications were received this year, in large part due to the additional physician workforce funding secured by CMA through the state budget. Although Governor Jerry Brown proposed to eliminate these funds in his 2017-2018 budget, CMA fought to maintain this important funding, which is critical as we work to address California’s primary care physician shortage. .
CMA members are eligible for student loan refinancing options, which include low-variable and fixed rates with terms ranging from five to 20 years, with an additional rate discount of 0.25 percent. Parent PLUS loans can also be refinanced. There are no prepayment penalties, and borrowers could save $15,7672 over the life of their loans on average when they refinance their student loans with SoFi. Learn more.