PHC President and CEO discusses strengthening the health care workforce on Futuro Health’s WorkforceRx podcast

November 14, 2023
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Workforce 

Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, the President and CEO of Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC), recently sat down with Van Ton-Quinlivan, the CEO of Futuro Health, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the health and wealth of communities by growing the health care workforce, to discuss the physician workforce shortage on the WorkforceRx podcast.  

While California is facing an expected physician shortage of 10,500 by the end of decade, Alonzo-Diaz explained that the shortage is about more than just numbers: “Oftentimes, we don’t have enough access to physicians in particular areas” or “enough culturally dynamic as well as diverse physicians.”  

Alonzo-Diaz highlighted the work of PHC’s programs, CalMedForce and CalHealthCares, through which PHC partners with public agencies to increase access to care in underserved communities.  

CalMedForce dedicates voter-approved, state tobacco tax revenues from Proposition 56 (2016) to train physicians, with a focus on medically underserved populations.  

“[CalMedForce] supports the expansion as well as the recruitment of physician trainees in those underserved areas,” Alonzo-Diaz said. “One of the things that we know is that physicians tend to practice where they are training, so the more that we can provide GME or graduate medical education programs in those underserved areas — in the Central Valley, in the Imperial Valley, in the Northern Sierra areas — the more opportunities there are for physician trainees to be exposed to those communities.” 

CalHealthCares also uses Prop. 56 tobacco tax funds to provide loan repayments of up to $300,000 on educational debt for physicians and dentists in exchange for a five-year commitment to provide care to Medi-Cal patients. 

“We know that there are a lot of disincentives with respect to providing and participating in the Medi-Cal program, primarily given the low reimbursement rate for Medi-Cal physicians and dentists,” Alonzo-Diaz said. “CalHealthCares recognizes that in order to increase access to care for those Medi-Cal communities, we need to be creative with respect to how we incentivize physicians and dentists.”

Alonzo-Diaz and Ton-Quinlivan also discussed PHC’s recent Health Equity Leadership Summit, which took place in San Jose on September 14 and 15. The summit brought together more than 100 individuals, including physicians, executives, advocates, and allies to find community, engage in hands-on trainings and workshops, and hold in-depth conversations about how they are addressing the issue of health equity in California through their care of underserved communities throughout the state. 

“Having conversations, having a community plaza where you can discourse and where you can provide information and strategize…none of those concepts are new,” Alonzo-Diaz said. “What makes our Health Equity Leadership Summit different though is this desire to move from conversation to action and to have a broad array of representation — not just from physicians and physicians-in-training — but advocates, allies, and others that are interested in advancing health equity.”


Was this article helpful?    
Download the New CMADocs app!

Download the new CMADocs app!

CMA's new mobile app lets you connect with your colleagues and engage with CMA content!  Download the "CMADocs" app today from the Apple or Google Play app stores for daily news updates, events calendar, resource library and more.

Latest News

Load More