Rural Areas in California Continue To Face Stark Shortage of Physicians
Despite new medical rotation programs, most rural areas of California continue to face a shortage of primary care physicians, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Currently, 16 of California's 58 counties are falling short of the recommended ratio of 80 primary care doctors per 100,000 residents, according to the California HealthCare Foundation. CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline.
Although about 20% of the state's population reside in rural areas, only about 9% of California physicians practice in these regions. In addition, many of the state's rural doctors are nearing retirement.
Some new physicians might decide not to practice in rural regions because they might need higher compensation to repay student loans. In addition, many rural areas have a shortage of specialists available for referrals.
In response to some of these challenges, UC-Davis' medical school launched its Rural-PRIME program three years ago. The program aims to train physicians to work in underserved areas such as immigrant communities, low-income regions and rural areas (McManis , Sacramento Bee, 11/29).
The California Hospital Association, the California State Association of Counties and other supporters say the measures would help rural hospitals recruit physicians and improve patient care.
However, critics contend that the bills would lead hospital executives to prioritize profit over quality. The California Medical Association and other opponents of the bills recommend that officials should instead increase Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements and improve student loan repayment programs.
Medi-Cal is Â California's Medicaid program (McManis , Sacramento Bee, 11/29).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.