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State tobacco tax expanding health care workforce; CalMedForce awards $38 million from Prop 56 funds

December 02, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Physician Workforce 


Revenues Will Help Address Physician Shortage, Increase Access to Care

Sacramento, Calif. – Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) announced more than $38 million in CalMedForce awards to support medical training and residency programs across the state and to help grow the physician workforce.

The funding, generated by the voter-approved Proposition 56 tobacco tax in 2016, will pay for 198 residency positions in 89 Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs at hospitals and clinics, with an emphasis on programs serving medically underserved groups and communities.

Medical school graduates must continue training in an accredited, specialty-specific GME residency program to care for patients independently. The lack of sufficient residency opportunities contributes to the state’s physician shortage and limits the number of new doctors entering the workforce.

The California Future Health Workforce Commission estimates California will have a 4,100-clinician shortfall by 2025. PHC established the CalMedForce grant program to create additional GME opportunities. 

“CalMedForce helps grow and strengthen our physician workforce to meet the demands of California’s growing and changing patient population,” said Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, MPAff, PHC president and CEO. “Research also shows that physicians are more likely to practice where they complete residency programs, demonstrating an opportunity to address access to care challenges in underserved communities.”

The University of California (UC) is the designated recipient of Proposition 56 funding and has contracted with PHC to administer CalMedForce. All accredited residency programs in the state that meet guidelines are eligible to apply for funding. Of the CalMedForce awardees, approximately 25% of GME programs are sponsored by the University.

For the 2018-2019 award cycle, CalMedForce released an initial round of awards also totaling more than $38 million to 72 GME programs across California to retain and expand GME programs in primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology) and emergency medicine.

However, even with the additional funding, the shortage of California residency programs poses an ongoing challenge to expanding the physician workforce. “CalMedForce received funding requests this grant cycle for 528 slots seeking more than $93 million, underscoring the long-standing need for additional investment to train and retain physicians,” said Cathryn Nation, MD, Vice President for Health Sciences at UC Office of the President. “We continue to face a long road of needed investment to improve access to quality care across the state.”

For more information, visit PHCdocs.org/CalMedForce.

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