Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bill Aims to Ease Hospital Hiring Restrictions to Boost Rural Docs

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Assemblyman Jim Wood. - GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
  • Assemblyman Jim Wood.
In an effort to curb the chronic lack of health care in rural areas like Humboldt County, the state Assemblyman Jim Wood-led Health Committee passed a bill that would give small-town hospitals more freedom to hire doctors.

The bill is a response to the difficulties rural areas have attracting and retaining medical providers (as the Journal has written about here and here).

“We are experiencing a healthcare crisis,” Wood said in a press release. “Rural California has 1 physician for every 3,500 people, and the average age of that one physician is 60. It is crucial that we find ways to convince physicians to practice in our small towns.”

Wood’s office cited a survey that indicates 92 percent of graduating medical students want a salaried position rather than an independent practice.

That’s difficult to accomplish in California, where it’s illegal for physicians to be employed by hospitals in order to prevent doctors from protecting hospitals’ business interests. In response, the bill would ease that restriction for 28 rural hospitals — i