With Baby Boomers beginning to retire and health care reform expanding coverage to millions of previously uninsured citizens, California will need an ample supply of doctors. Meeting this burgeoning patient need is a paramount concern for the California Medical Association (CMA).
As California's population grows rapidly and ages, the demand for physicians' increases as well. Our state is becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse, and many areas that have traditionally been medically under-served are expected to see the greatest population growth.
At the same time, many of California's physicians are approaching retirement age, and the pipeline designed to replace them is experiencing bottlenecks at both the medical school and residency training levels. 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 challenges of physician supply and maldistribution, including:
- Creating the Steven M. Thompson Loan Repayment Program that 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.