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CPCA Continues to Lead Efforts on Primary Care Workforce Shortage

The trend is clear: California will continue to face a severe shortage of primary care providers over the next 15 years. New data from the UCSF Healthforce Center report, California’s Primary Care Workforce: Forecasted Supply, Demand, and Pipeline of Trainees 2016-2030, indicates that California’s projected demand for primary care clinician FTEs is between 39,331 and 44,188 by 2030. This is an increase of 12% to 17% above the current demand. Some regions, including the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Southern Border, face greater workforce shortages due to the uneven distribution of providers across the state. In addition, the current number of physicians graduating primary care residencies in California is not enough to replace the large number of clinicians critically needed.

In an effort to address this devastating issue, CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates led a successful coalition effort to secure $100M in the California State Budget (17-18) for primary care residencies. The reinstatement of this three year allocation allows for the stability, expansion, and creation of primary care residencies that train residents in areas of unmet need throughout the state. Clearly there is great need for this funding. Seventy-seven Primary Care Residency applications were submitted this year, which included ten applications for new programs. This is an approximate increase of 20% from the previous year and is the largest number of applications the Song-Brown Program has received to date.

In addition to continued advocacy around residency support, CPCA also held a second Healthcare Workforce Policy Coalition convening in June. The Coalition continues to build commitment from multiple sector partners toward the common goal of addressing the primary care workforce gap by engaging and supporting California’s diverse communities. At that meeting, CPCA reconvened over forty workforce partners to further refine policy priorities, discuss the current policy environment, and initiate conversations on the early steps that will be needed to best collaborate in future advocacy. Over the half-day session, and through facilitated small and large group dialog, particular interest surrounded three inter-related areas: 

  1. Priming the Primary Care Pipeline
  2. Residency Redesign
  3. Designing a Primary Care Advocacy and Communication Strategy 

There is an urgent need for greater efforts to expand and diversify the entire primary care workforce across California’s health care delivery system. By prioritizing work in these core areas, the Coalition is poised to accelerate policy change in health workforce and achieve a primary care future that is inclusive of and responsive to the communities we serve. It will take the leadership, support, and experience of each organization at the table, and many more, to develop strategy and realize an impact by 2030 that goes well beyond physicians to the whole primary care team.

The Healthcare Workforce Policy Coalition met one final time this calendar year on November 6. The goal of this meeting was to hear about issues that have been prioritized by each of the three subcommittees and to subsequently identify possible legislative action that the Coalition would like to draft and sponsor in 2018.

For up-to-date information on what CPCA is doing on workforce issues, please email Nataly Diaz at ndiaz@cpca.org to sign up for CPCA Workforce Update emails.