With Baby Boomers beginning to retire and health care reform expanding coverage to millions of previously uninsured citizens, California needs to address the statewide physician shortage. Expanding the physician workforce so that every patient can access timely, quality and affordable care is a paramount concern for the California Medical Association (CMA).
Our state is also becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse, and many areas that have traditionally been medically under-served are expected to see the greatest population growth. What’s more, medical school debt is growing faster than physician income, and it is one of the primary reasons that the supply of primary care physicians is lagging, even further behind that of specialists.
CMA has been active on several fronts to address the physician shortage and workforce challenges, including:
- Supporting Physicians for a Healthy California’s (PHC) CalMedForce program, which grows a diverse physician workforce by supporting, incentivizing and expanding graduate medical education in California. The program’s goal is to grow and strengthen the physician pipeline to meet the demands of California’s growing patient population, with a focus on medically-underserved areas and populations.
- Supporting PHC’s administration of the CalHealthCares program, as overseen by the Department of Health Care Services, which increases providers accepting Medi-Cal patients by supporting and incentivizing physicians and dentists to increase participation in the Medi-Cal program. The program’s goal is to increase access to care by Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
- Creating the Steven M. Thompson Loan Repayment Program, which provides grants to pay off medical loans for doctors working in under-served areas. Each participating physician receives up to $105,000 in exchange for a three-year service commitment in a medically under-served area of the state; Supporting new medical schools, UC Merced and UC Riverside, and pushing an expedited timeline to build them;
- Supporting efforts to increase the diversity of the physician workforce through CMA's Ethnic Medical Organization Section; and
- Promoting increased incentives for pursuing primary care and supporting primary care physicians to keep their practices viable.