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
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
The physician shortage raises the question of whether the
state will be ready for full health reform on schedule in
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.