Rural Areas Face Challenges Recruiting Physicians
The disparity in the number of physicians practicing in rural and urban areas is increasing, according to some analysts, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Peggy Broussard Wheeler, vice president of the California Health Association's Rural Health Care Center, said a recent survey found that 50% of rural California hospitals have reduced services.
The Times reports that over the past five years rural hospitals in Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties have closed, in part because of large numbers of uninsured patients.
According to the Times, impediments in recruiting physicians to rural areas include:
- Lower Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursement rates;
- More limited support from medical specialists;
- Fewer cultural opportunities;
- Limited job prospects for spouses; and
- Fewer marriage prospects for unmarried physicians.
In Crescent City in Del Norte County, a general surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon and 10 primary care physicians left in 2005. To help address the resulting physician shortage, a community clinic has proposed:
- Seeking higher Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursement rates;
- Improving access to telemedicine;
- Expanding a state repayment program for medical school loans; and
- Encouraging medical schools to provide rotations to rural areas to medical residents (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
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.