Harder, Costa Announce Bill to Build New Medical Schools in Areas Like Central Valley
Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10) and Jim Costa (CA-16) announced the Expanding Medical Education Act to establish a grant program to assist colleges and universities in the establishment of new medical schools in underserved communities. The grants would be directed towards communities with fewer than 200 physicians per 100,000 residents and no accredited medical schools in the area. In 2017, the San Joaquin Valley had less than 45 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents -- nearly half than the greater Bay Area.
"We have about half as many doctors per person as the Bay Area -- and it means people here can't get the care they need close to home," said Rep. Harder. "I hear about the lack of access to care at just about every town hall I hold at home. The obvious way to resolve the doctor shortage is to train more doctors -- which is why this investment would be so meaningful. It's time to make the investments in our health care workforce we should have made decades ago."
"This bill is a significant investment in medical education and will help UCSF-Fresno strengthen and expand its program to train doctors," said Rep. Costa. "For 40 years, I have supported building a medical school in the Valley. While in the state legislature, I secured the funding for the downtown UCSF-Fresno campus, and now, in Congress, I am working to deliver funding to help this program expand. Growing our own doctors is the only way to confront this medical crisis. I will fight for every dollar to ensure Valley residents have access to the healthcare they deserve."
This bill will also help to build on ongoing state efforts to expand medical schools. The Governor's proposed budget would direct $15 million to expand the UC San Francisco School of Medicine Fresno branch campus in partnership with UC Merced, which would directly benefit residents of the Central Valley.
Representative Harder is leading on multiple efforts to improve health care access in the Central Valley. In his first year in office, he introduced the Stopping Doctor Shortages Act which could bring 10,000 physicians to California in the next decade, the STAR Act which would create new telehealth infrastructure, and the Increasing Access to Mental Health Act which would expand access to mental health facilities.