San Gabriel Valley Looks at Strategies To Address Physician Shortage
San Gabriel Valley hospitals, doctors, clinics and long-term care providers are evaluating strategies to curb a growing shortage of primary care physicians,Â in partÂ to prepare for an expected influx of newly insured residents under the federal health reform law, the Whittier Daily News reports
According to HHS, the U.S. currently faces a shortage of about 16,000 primary care physicians (Kimitch, Whittier Daily News, 8/7). In San Gabriel Valley, the shortage is most severe in areas that have a higher proportion of low-income and minority residents.
Experts say these communities often face higher rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, many physicians are reluctant to treat low-income residents because of low reimbursement rates through Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Assembly member Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) -- who has sponsored several bills aimed at addressing the physician shortage in California -- said, "The poorer the community, the fewer doctors there are" (Kimitch, Whittier Daily News, 8/1).
Hernandez added that the problem is likely to worsen as more residents obtain coverage under the federal health reform law.
Possible Strategies To Address Physician Shortage
Health care stakeholders in San Gabriel Valley are considering multiple proposals to address the growing physician shortage, including:
- Starting a medical residency program in the area;
- Restoring affirmative action policies in UC schools; and
- Developing partnerships between San Gabriel Valley physicians and hospitals (Whittier Daily News, 8/7).