Expert: Clinics Expanding Under ACA, But Could Face Physician Shortage
Community health clinics in California are expanding under the Affordable Care Act, but there might not be enough physicians to staff the centers, according to a primary care expert, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports.
The ACA allocates $11 billion nationwide for expanding or building federally qualified health centers that treat low-income individuals.
According to federal data, 500,000 additional Californians will be served in new or expanded health clinics in 2014, when more residents will be eligible for coverage under the ACA.
Dylan Roby -- a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research -- said FQHCs can help reduce health care costs "because of the fact that they're enabling patients to avoid those high-dollar, more significant acute care episodes."
Concerns About Physician Shortage
However, Carmela Castellano-Garcia -- president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association -- said that community health clinics are struggling to obtain family physicians ahead of the coverage expansion.
She said the centers "are having challenges with recruiting physicians; they are having challenges with retaining physicians, as there's increased competition now because everybody's trying to expand and gear up for health care reform. Not just the community health centers, but the entire health care industry is facing the impact of this crisis."
According to Castellano-Garcia, there was "tremendous demand" on community health centers in Massachusetts when the state reformed its health care system, causing the facilities to be "overwhelmed."She added, "I actually believe that the community health centers [in California] will be quite popular in 2014 as well, and that we will probably be struggling to keep up with the demand" (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 3/4). 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.