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Congressman Raul Ruiz

Representing the 36th District of California

Dr. Ruiz Leads Effort to Address Physician Shortage in California

May 2, 2017
Press Release
Pushes for Additional Funding for Medi-Cal and GME Programs

Washington, D.C. – Today Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), an emergency physician and member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, lead a letter to California Governor Brown urging him to use Proposition 56, "the California Healthcare, Research, and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016," funds for their intended purpose: tobacco prevention, public health, Graduate Medical Education and Medi-Cal payments. The Governor’s recently proposed state budget takes money from Prop 56 and directs it towards the general fund.  

The letter, lead by Dr. Ruiz and signed by 37 other members of the California Congressional Delegation, urges the Governor to use Prop 56 funds where they were intended, particularly to address the statewide and Medi-Cal physician shortage crisis.
“We have a severe shortage of physicians in California, which makes it difficult for Californians to see the doctor they need when they need it. Furthermore, California ranks 47th in the nation in Medi-Cal payments resulting in more physicians opting out of seeing Medi-Cal patients, making it even more difficult for those patients to get care. To put it in perspective California needs 8,000 more primary care physicians by 2030 to fill the physician shortage gap and in my district alone there are regions with only one physician per 9000 residents, three times worse than the recommended standard. This is unacceptable,” said Dr. Ruiz.
“I wrote to Governor Brown urging him to put the needs of patients first and fund the new Graduate Medical Education programs we need to adequately care for Californians and increase payments through Medi-Cal, so Medi-Cal patients don't have to struggle to see a physician. In fact, this is precisely how Californians indicated they want these funds used,” said Dr. Ruiz. “This isn’t a political issue, this is about standing up for patients and providing for the health and well-being of all Californians.”
An excerpt of the letter is included below and you can click here to view the full letter.
“As we continue to fight to ensure that all Americans have access to high-quality affordable health care, it is crucial that funds from the passage of Proposition 56, the 'California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016' are used for their original intent – to improve access to care in the Medicaid program by increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and funding for Graduate Medical Education programs.”
Prop 56 increased the cigarette tax, including on packs, tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes and directed the revenue towards additional funding for Graduate Medical Education programs and increased payments for Medi-Cal services, as well as funding for tobacco prevention and reduction programs.  It was passed by California voters in 2016.