Doc shortage looms

Aging physician population in Golden State could mean primary-care shortage on horizon

As California faces a shortage in primary-care doctors, the Affordable Care Act is expected to further strain the state’s health-care system as roughly 4 million state residents are due to obtain health insurance by 2014.

Though California currently has a higher physician-to-resident ratio than the national average, the state’s aging physician population—more than 30 percent of California’s doctors are 60 or older—has many predicting a significant shortage as that generation begins to retire, according to

Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) anticipates a greater need for physicians in the near future. As a short-term fix, Hernandez said he plans to push for legislation that would give pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants more authority for patient care.

The federal health-care law addresses a need for more primary-care doctors through various financial incentives, and California’s medical schools have begun placing greater emphasis on primary care.