Brown signs bill to increase doctors in underserved areas



(SACRAMENTO) – Late yesterday, Governor Brown signed into law AB 1288 by Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez that will help to increase the number of doctors practicing in medically underserved areas.


“We as a state should be doing all we can to build the ranks of physicians practicing in medically underserved communities, and AB 1288 is one part of the solution,” said Pérez. “One of the barriers to responding to the physician shortage is the slow state licensing process. Rural and underserved areas face a number of barriers in recruiting and attracting physicians, but slow state bureaucracy should not be one of them.”


AB 1288 (Chapter 307, Statutes of 2013) requires the Medical and Osteopathic Boards of California to develop a process to give priority review status to applicants that can demonstrate they intend to practice in a medically underserved area or serve a medically underserved population. The new law does not change the strong standards of the Medical Practice Act but instead focuses the Boards’ resources on the areas and populations with the greatest need.


Currently, just 16 of California’s 58 counties have the federal government’s recommended supply of primary care physicians. Rural areas suffer in particular from low physician practice rates and from a diminishing supply of primary care physicians.


The demand for primary care physicians in the state will only increase with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, with millions of Californians becoming insured and millions more with improved benefits and other consumer protections.


To read the text of the bill, please visit the state’s legislative information website.