New Bill Would Take Over MRMIP Money

The legislative season has begun, with dozens of bills moving through committees this week.

The Senate Health Committee this week approved a measure designed to increase the number of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals in California — just when demand for those jobs may be at its highest point.

“SB 635 would direct money that is currently going to MRMIP (Major Risk Medical Insurance Program), which is being phased out by national health care reforms,” according to Senate member Ed Hernandez (D-Los Angeles), author of the bill and head of the Health Committee. “The money funding MRMIP can be spent now on the vital job of increasing the health care work force in California.”

That’s especially important starting in 2014, Hernandez said, because the demand for primary care providers is expected to spike — particularly in underserved communities — and that’s where some of that workforce training money could go.

Gail Blanchard-Saiger of the California Hospital Association said this bill is going to be critical, given the current dearth of providers in the state, on top of the increased demand.

“California is not going to have the medical providers, particularly in the allied health fields,” Blanchard-Saiger said. “The state will need to train 1 million health care workers by 2013. That’s doctors, nurses and a vast array of allied health fields.”

It’s an attractive idea right now, she said, because it doesn’t require any additional expense incurred by the state. “It is much-needed funding for workforce training,” she said, “without any added money from California.”

The time to plan for the national health care reform law is now “because 2014 is right around the corner,” Hernandez said. “This law will be one small part of trying to get more primary care providers and nurses into underserved areas.”

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