Rural Hospitals Face Physician Shortages
The state must offer doctors incentives to work in rural areas to address physician shortages in those communities, San Joaquin Valley health officials said Thursday at a California Legislative Rural Caucus meeting, the Fresno Bee reports.
The Caucus is holding a series of 10 town-hall meetings across the state to develop a bipartisan health package for rural communities, Assembly member and Rural Caucus Chair Mike Villines (R-Fresno) said.
According to Richard Rawson, president and CEO at Hanford Community Medical Center, Medi-Cal payments do not cover the costs of services, and doctors who remain in rural areas are overworked and are leaving the communities.
Peggy Broussard Wheeler of the California Hospital Association and the Rural Healthcare Center said "rural hospitals are often the primary source of care in communities that must cope with large numbers of poor, unemployed and uninsured citizens."
Health care providers at the meeting said lawmakers should address the problems by:
- Increasing payments for treating Medi-Cal beneficiaries to cover the cost of care;
- Funding scholarships, loans and grants to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas; and
- Supporting a proposal for a new medical school at the University of California-Merced to train doctors in the San Joaquin Valley.