Bedard, Dr. Larry A.

Dr. Larry A. Bedard is a physician in Marin County, former president of American College of Emergency Physicians and former chair of CMA’s Corporate Practice of Medicine Advisory Committee.

California’s “Physician Hiring Ban” Keeps Doctors From Serving Low Income Communities

By Dr. Larry A. Bedard

While there are differences in opinion as to whether the various proposed reforms at the federal level will fix our heath care crisis, there should be no question that at the heart of the problem in California is the glaring shortage of doctors now practicing or in the pipeline to treat its rural and low income residents.

A snapshot of California Senate districts illustrates the severity of the problem: In Senator Florez’s District more than 20% of citizens live in areas designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “Designated Physician Shortage Areas”; in Senator Negrete-McCloud’s district - nearly 15%; Senator Oropeza’s district – more than 15%; Senator Wyland’s district- nearly 10%.

In Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s district more than 188,000 citizens live in physician shortage areas. Access to doctors in these and other areas throughout the state is inadequate and unacceptable.