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HR Roundup: Sequestration Leads to Layoffs

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, April 22, 2013

Doctors lobby to address CA physician shortage
The physician shortage is another topic receiving legislative attention in California. This week the California Medical Association, state legislators, and the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) proposed a package of five bills to address physician shortage issues in the state through increasing residency slots, funding a new medical school, and encouraging rural placements for young physicians.

In addition to current shortage issues, CMA says the bills will address the care needs of the additional 5 million insured patients in California under the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Our state's primary care physician shortage will reach a crisis level by 2015," said Jeremy Fish, MD, of the CAFP in a statement. "Already, 74 percent of California's 58 counties have fewer family medicine and other primary care physicians than they need."

Three of the bills are meant to deter young physicians who are trained in California from leaving the state:

  • Assembly Bill 1176, lobbied for by both CMA and CAFP, creates a state fund for residency slots in underserved communities, to be paid for by charging insurers $5 per enrollee.
  • Assembly Bill 565 would reward more medical school graduates with student loan repayments for practicing in the state's underserved communities for three years.
  • Assembly Bill 1288 proposes that the Medical Board of California will prioritize physicians' license applications when they are serving in those underserved communities.

For all of the funding of physicians, none of these bills addresses aligning nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other allied health professionals in tackling the access to care issues through expanding scope of practice laws or any other initiatives that might increase the presence of those professionals in shortage areas.

When these practitioners are less expensive to train and finish their training sooner than physicians, California should examine further efforts and areas where they can align their needs with this capable workforce.


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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