Calif. Struggles To Draw Young Primary Care Doctors to Rural Areas
A health care expert says that rural areas of California are facing difficulties recruiting young primary care physicians to replace retiring doctors, HealthyCal reports.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only about one-third of active physicians in the state practice primary care. In addition, many of the primary care providers are near retirement age.
Meanwhile, observers say that a shortage of such physicians in rural areas could increase under the Affordable Care Act, which will offer health insurance to millions of additional state residents.
Difficulties of Recruiting Younger Doctors
Dave Jones -- board president of the California State Rural Health Association and CEO of the not-for-profit Mountain Valleys Health Centers in Northeastern California -- said, "Country doctors doing family practice is kind of a 24/7 job," adding, "What we find is that many of the young docs go into specialties because they do get paid more, their hours are more regular, and they have a better lifestyle."
He said, "It has been an issue for a long time; with the [ACA] coming in and looking more toward wellness and primary care, it's going to make it even harder."
However, some observers note that Medi-Cal reimbursements for primary care physicians will increase temporarily under the ACA, saying the change could provide greater incentive for doctors to work in lower-income areas. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.Anthony Wright -- executive director of Health Access -- also said the ACA should help bring more physicians to rural areas. He said, "If you create a lot more paying customers by getting them insured ... the hope is that the market will adjust in terms of having more (doctors) there" (Bartos, HealthyCal, 4/23). 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.