Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) today announced that he has introduced SB 841, new legislation to expand much-needed healthcare resources in the San Joaquin Valley by training more physicians in the region and accelerating the planning process to launch a new medical school at the University of California (UC) Merced campus. The bill has received bipartisan support with Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) signing on as principal co-authors.
“Everyone deserves equal access to healthcare. Unfortunately, some areas are woefully underserved. The San Joaquin Valley is disproportionately affected by California’s physician shortage with access to health care 31% lower than the rest of the state,” said Cannella. “SB 841 will seek to end this unnecessary disparity by strengthening existing UC medical programs that provide healthcare services to Valley residents while accelerating the effort for a UC Merced medical school.”
“More than ever we need more doctors and healthcare professionals to serve the nearly 4 million people in our San Joaquin Valley communities. We need medical students from the Valley, to train in the Valley, for the purpose of serving the Valley’s medical needs,” said Galgiani. “We have been working on the UC Merced Medical School project for nearly a decade and it is time to move forward.”
Currently, the UC operates the innovative San Joaquin Valley (SJV) Program in Medical Education (PRIME), a program designed to attract and retain physicians in the Valley. Cannella’s bill will provide SJV PRIME increased ongoing funding to allow the program to double current enrollment. SB 841 will also fund a two-year planning effort to establish a new medical school located on the UC Merced campus.
“Receiving adequate healthcare shouldn’t be based upon what part of the state you live in,” said Gray. “Increasing access to quality healthcare starts with educating more doctors here in the Valley. Improving our healthcare infrastructure is priority number one.”