Bill Would Allow Doctors, Dentists from Mexico to Practice in Not-for-Profit Clinics
Hoping to "tackle a statewide medical care shortage [and] target the health needs of poor and uninsured Latinos in California," state Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a bill (AB 1045) that would alter California's medical licensing requirements to allow about 70 doctors and 50 dentists from Mexico to practice at not-for-profit clinics, the Los Angeles Times reports. Latinos represent 30% of the state's overall population, but only 5% of the state's doctors are Latino. Firebaugh said, "Our universities don't do enough to prepare our doctors to care for an increasingly diverse population." David Quackenbush, a California Hispanic Health Care Association analyst, added that language and cultural barriers can mean Latinos receive "substandard medical treatment or choos[e] to forgo visits to doctors." The Times reports that if approved, the bill would bring care providers to areas "that have had difficulty attracting health professionals because they have high numbers of patients covered by Medi-Cal," the state's Medicaid program. The clinics would pay the doctors' salaries. Last year Firebaugh introduced a similar bill, but the provisions addressing the licensing changes were stripped out. The final version of last year's bill created a task force that is studying the "cultural impediments" poor people face in receiving care.
The Assembly has approved the new measure, but "it faces an uphill struggle in the Senate." The California Dental Association opposes the bill because it believes that changing the licensing rules for Mexican dentists would "downgrade the quality of care some patients receive." Association President Dr. Jack Broussard said, "The problem we have with the bill at this point is that it allows foreign-trained dentists to practice without any way to evaluate their training because schools vary so much" (Gronke, Los Angeles Times, 6/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.