SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation authored by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) that will bring more doctors to rural areas in accordance with President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act allows Native American health programs to bring in doctors to practice at tribal clinics when they are not licensed in the state where the clinic is located, as long as they are licensed in another state. Chesbro's AB 1896 changes California law so that it is aligned to the new federal law.
"Rural communities in California suffer from a chronic shortage of health care providers," Chesbro said. "This is especially severe in communities that depend on tribal health care clinics. Tribal clinics are open to all members of the community, not just members of the tribe, and are an important part of our health-care delivery network in rural California, particularly for low-income families."
A U.S. Civil Rights Commission report on the Native American health care delivery system found that patients who depend on tribal clinics do not receive consistent care because of high turnover of physicians. This inconsistency has led to misdiagnoses of conditions and incorrect treatment regimens.
"This is unnecessary and very dangerous to patients," Chesbro said. "It is also expensive for the state."
The Indian Health Service in California says the National Indian Health Service has a pool of physician applicants from other states who are eager to move to California and work in a tribal clinic for a contracted period of time.
"According to the Health Affairs Journal, President Obama's Affordable Care Act will result in 3.4 million more Californians gaining health insurance by 2016," Chesbro said. "Many rural California residents who previously did not have access to health care will be insured, and it is vital we have enough providers to serve them."
Contact: Andrew Bird, Chesbro Communications Director, (916) 319-2001