The California Health Report spoke with L.A. Care's CEO, John Baackes, in "California Grapples With Growing Physician Shortage For Low-Income Patients". The piece talks about how the increase in health coverage due to the Affordable Care Act, particulary the doubling of Medi-Cal enrollment, has raised a new problem — physician shortage.
According to the California Health Care Foundation, in 2013 there were 59 full-time primary-care doctors per 100,000 Medi-Cal patients. But by 2015, the ratio had dropped to 39 doctors per 100,000 patients. In Los Angeles, the area around Martin Luther King Community Hospital is about 600 primary-care physicians short of what is needed.
"It's been a challenge meeting the demands of the Medi-Cal expansion," Baackes said, noting that the ACA added about 600,000 new Medi-Cal enrollees to L.A. Care's numbers. He added that the plan has also been under pressure from the placement of dual-eligible Medicare and Medi-Cal enrollees into managed care. L.A. Care also added about 70,000 commercial enrollees through Covered California.
To address this shortage, L.A. Care began a $31 million initiative, Elevating the Safety Net, to recruit and retain primary care providers to work in clinics serving the most vulnerable communities of Los Angeles County. This includes grants to clinics and medical groups to boost salaries of new hires and provide financial incentives; a loan repayment program for physicians; and scholarships for medical students committed to working in the safety net.
Learn more about Elevating the Safety Net.
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.