(SACRAMENTO) â€“ Assemblymember V. Manuel PÃ©rez reported that his bill to help increase the number of doctors in medically under served areas is on its way to the Governor.
AB 1288, Priority Licensing for Medically Under served Populations, would require the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Board of California to develop a process to give priority review status to applicants that can demonstrate they intend to practice in a medically under served area or serve a medically underserved population.
â€œRural and under served areas face a number of barriers in recruiting and attracting physicians, but slow state bureaucracy should not be one of them,â€ said PÃ©rez. â€œWe as a state should be doing all we can to build the ranks of physicians practicing in medically under served communities, and AB 1288 is one part of the solution.â€
Currently, just 16 of California’s 58 counties have the federal government’s recommended supply of primary care physicians. Riverside County â€“ the fastest growing county in California â€“ is the only county with a population of one million to have fewer than 100 physicians per 100,000 people. Rural areas suffer in particular from low physician practice rates and from a diminishing supply of primary care physicians. In general, rural counties tend to have far fewer physicians per capita than urban counties.
One of the barriers to responding to the physician shortage is the slow state licensing process, which can be lengthy from start to finish.Â In fact, applicants are encouraged to start the application process at least six to nine months before they need licensure.Â AB 1288 would not change the vigorous standards of the Medical Practice Act but instead focuses the Boardsâ€™ resources on the areas and populations with the greatest need.
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 stateâ€™s legislative information website.