You Can Lead the Doctor to Primary care, but… by Pat Conrad MD

Saw a fun little story last week about a couple of California state legislators who are seeking to reverse their state’s teacher shortage. “Democratic state Sens. Henry Stern and Cathleen Galgiani introduced Senate Bill 807 to allow the state’s educators to deduct the cost of obtaining a teaching certificate from their state income taxes over five years, and to avoid paying taxes on their income until 2027.” Hey, makes sense to me: you get less of what you tax, and more of what you subsidize, every time.

So wouldn’t it make sense if the Golden State did the same for doctors? If teachers are that valuable, wouldn’t the state legislature think similarly (at least) of healers? The state is trying things like increasing residency slots, or giving away free med school tuition, neither of which have or will alleviate any primary care shortage in such an expensive place. So how about it politicians, how about some free cash for doctors?

Actually, I’m not advocating that at all. Rather than politically popular protected classes, I like seeing everyone having some skin in the game. But it is interesting that the California government is NOT proposing to throw cash at the same primary care doctors that they claim to be in such short supply. They want to home-grow more primary care docs, and “Some state lawmakers want to strengthen that foundation by expanding the roles of lower level healthcare providers, such as pharmacists and nurses.” Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

And if you really want a knee-slapper, enjoy this ridiculous bit by Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association which represents 1,150 nonprofit community health centers. Her biggest worries include not enough primary care docs taking Medi-Cal (Medicaid), and not enough cultural diversity in the state’s physician workforce.

Something tells me that the dwindling supply of California primary care docs will face mandatory Medi-Cal quotas and new cultural sensitivity CME’s long before anyone throws any new money at them. Maybe the state can train teachers to do double duty as primary care responders.

97500cookie-checkYou Can Lead the Doctor to Primary care, but… by Pat Conrad MD