Doctors Tout Package of Bills To Curb State Physician Shortage

On Tuesday, California doctors announced a package of five bills that aim to address the state's physician shortage, the Sacramento Business Journal report.

The bills were unveiled at the California Medical Association's annual legislative conference (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/16).

The Los Angeles Times reports that only 16 of the state's 58 counties have the supply of physicians recommended by the federal government.

In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges says that nearly 30% of California's doctors are nearing retirement age.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing to expand Medi-Cal and require most residents to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which could exacerbate the shortage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

In February, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced a set of bills (SB 491, SB 492 and SB 493) that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists to address the physician shortage.

Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) also introduced a separate bill (SB 352) that would expand the scope of practice for physician assistants.

However, Molly Weedn -- a spokesperson for the California Medical Association -- said that the organization is concerned about patient safety if the state expands non-physicians' scope of practice (California Healthline, 3/14).

Read more here.

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