Senator Roth’s Proposal to Fix California’s Physician Shortage Passes Senate Health Committee

April 29, 2015

Senator Richard D. Roth’s (D-Riverside) proposal to fix the state’s dire physician shortage by funding additional medical residency slots passed the Senate Health Committee today on a bipartisan, unanimous vote.

“Senate Bill 22 builds on the success of fully funding the UC Riverside School of Medicine by providing the resources necessary to train tomorrow’s doctors,” said Senator Roth. “SB 22 establishes a funding framework based on a public-private partnership that is critical to addressing Inland Southern California and the state’s long term physician needs.”

Upon graduation from medical school, all graduates are required to formally train in what is known as a residency program in order to become practicing physicians. The length of this program varies by specialty, but for family medicine it typically takes three years.  Placement in a residency program comes down to match day, when new graduates are “matched” with a residency program.

Studies have indicated that California will need at least 8,000 more primary care physicians by 2030 to maintain current rates of utilization; an increase of 32% from 2010. Maintaining the current rate, however, is not enough. Only 16 of California’s 58 counties fall within the Council on Graduate Medical Education’s (GME) recommended 60-80 primary care physicians per 100,000 people. The state as a whole barely meets this recommendation with 63 per 100,000 people. The need for physicians in underserved areas is expected to grow without a targeted investment.

SB 22 creates a fund based on a public-private partnership model to provide additional GME residency positions throughout California. SB 22 will leverage the most out of public dollars invested by ensuring private organizations are contributing funds and working together to establish additional residency positions.

Furthermore, studies have shown that physicians are more likely to practice in the communities where they complete their residencies. This means rural and community-based residencies will have a lasting impact on access to healthcare in currently underserved areas, including Inland Southern California.

The Senator said: “If we train tomorrow’s doctors in the areas that need them most, they are more likely to continue serving those areas, helping alleviate critical physician shortages and ensuring equal access to healthcare.”

SB 22 now moves to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

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