California Senate Passes Two Bills That Would Expand Scope of Practice

May 29, 2013

By: California Healthline

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Tuesday, the state Senate passed two of three bills that aim to expand certain health care providers' scope of practice as a means to address California's primary care physician shortage, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Lin, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/28).


Only 16 of the state's 58 counties have the supply of physicians recommended by the federal government.

In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges says that nearly 30% of California's doctors are nearing retirement age.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing to expand Medi-Cal and require most residents to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which could exacerbate the shortage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Details of Bills

In February, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced a set of bills (SB 491, SB 492 and SB 493) that, respectively, would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists to address the physician shortage (California Healthline, 4/17).

On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 491 and SB 492, which now go to the Assembly for consideration.

Later this week, the Senate is expected to vote on SB 493.

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