SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is projected to face a shortage of up to 17,000 doctors within two years, a problem that is especially acute in rural areas and minority communities. The provider gap, especially among primary care physicians, is a vexing issue in many states as they prepare to insure millions of new patients under the federal Affordable Care Act. Legislatures are seeking solutions. In California, one state lawmaker has proposed a package of bills intended to address the shortage. The legislation by Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina would expand the types of health services that can be provided by nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists.
His three bills, SB491, SB492 and SB493, are currently moving through the Assembly. Opponents, including the California Medical Association, argue that the state should instead focus on training more doctors.