Doctors Tout Package of Bills To Curb State Physician Shortage
On Tuesday, California doctors announced a package of five bills that aim to address the state's physician shortage, the Sacramento Business Journal report.
The bills were unveiled at the California Medical Association's annual legislative conference (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/16).
The Los Angeles Times reports that only 16 of the state's 58 counties have the supply of physicians recommended by the federal government.
In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges says that nearly 30% of California's doctors are nearing retirement age.
Meanwhile, the state is preparing to expand Medi-Cal and require most residents to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which could exacerbate the shortage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In February, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced a set of bills (SB 491, SB 492 and SB 493) that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists to address the physician shortage.
Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) also introduced a separate bill (SB 352) that would expand the scope of practice for physician assistants.
However, Molly Weedn -- a spokesperson for the California Medical Association -- said that the organization is concerned about patient safety if the state expands non-physicians' scope of practice (California Healthline, 3/14).
Details of Bills Announced by Physicians
The package of bills announced Tuesday aims to help address the doctorÂ shortage without expanding the scope of practice for non-physicians.
Bills included in the package are:
- SB 21 and AB 27, which would allocate $15 million annually from the state general fund for the new UC-Riverside School of Medicine;
- AB 565, which would expand the Steve Thompson Loan Repayment Program that helps repay medical school loans in exchange for individuals agreeing to practice in medically underserved areas;
- AB 1176, which would create additional residency positions in medically underserved communities by implementing insurer fees; and
- AB 1288, which would require the Medical Board of California to prioritize applications for physician licenses from individuals who agree to treat members of a medically underserved population (Sacramento Business Journal, 4/16).
Broadcast CoverageOn Tuesday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the package of bills (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 4/16). 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.