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California's Doctor Shortage a Key Obstacle to Health Reform, Lawmaker Says



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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, March 26, 2012
Even now, California doesn't have enough doctors in the places they're most needed.
 
And that situation is expected to get worse as doctors grow older and retire. At the same time more people are expected to qualify for health care. 

Democratic State Senator and Dr. Ed Hernandez is chair of the Senate Health Committee, which has held hearings on the shortage of providers.

HERNANDEZ: "Besides having a workforce shortage for primary care physicians, we also have a distribution problem in California. And where that problem is in the rural and the inner city where we have the highest incidences of chronic diseases."

Hernandez says even if more doctors begin training now, they won't be ready to treat patients for a decade.
 
So the health committee is considering ways to use other health workers like nurses and physician assistants for primary care.
 
The physician shortage raises the question of whether the state will be ready for full health reform on schedule in 2014.

HERNANDEZ: "It's going to be hard, but I'm committed to working to make sure we get to that point."

State senate hearings on the health care workforce will continue this fall. 
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