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Bills to expand physician workforce in rural areas and integrate care move through legislature

June 28, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Physician Workforce Professional Development & Education 


Sacramento – This week, three bills that will expand the number of physicians in rural areas and streamline care into integrated teams led by a physician passed their respective committees.


“The California Medical Association (CMA) is proud to be a sponsor of these bills,” said Paul R. Phinney, M.D., CMA president. “Expanding access to care in rural and underserved populations of California will help ensure patients get quality, timely care that they need. With millions of new patients entering the health care system in the coming year, we must increase the number of physician led teams.”


In an effort to increase retention of medical school graduates in California and especially in underserved areas, AB 27 (Medina) will require the University of California, Riverside to develop a program in conjunction with the health facilities of its medical residency programs to identify eligible residents that may take advantage of the Steve Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program, in order to promote greater retention of graduates.


“Governor Brown’s budget signed this week includes $15 million for the UC Riverside Medical School – an important investment which will help to increase the number of physicians California, particularly in the Inland Empire. Now we have to make we have the programs in place to get these doctors where they are most needed.


AB 565 (Salas) will strengthen the criteria for applications to the successful Steve Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program in several ways. The bill will expand the existing criteria of the program to make private practice primary care physicians who commit to practicing in medically underserved areas eligible for loan forgiveness.


In the years to come, as federal health reform is implemented and states work on ways to deliver higher quality, more efficient care to patients, better care coordination will be essential. AB 1208 (Pan) establishes a patient-centered medical homes as a primary means of streamlining the system while also improving individual health outcomes. However, all ‘medical homes’ are not created equal and AB 1208 will help to provide necessary parameters by defining ‘medical home’ in state law.


“Medical home models have proven successful, but only when they operate with the involvement of a patient’s entire care team,” added Dr. Phinney. “Physicians play a fundamental role in successful medical homes and help to ensure that all of a patient’s care needs, be they preventative care, mental health, nutrition and wellness, or specialty referral, are effectively addressed and coordinated.”


All three bills will now move to Senate Appropriations Committee.

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