Health Committee Passes Garcia’s Legislation to Alleviate Health Disparities in Rural Areas

AB 893 will help Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District retain physicians in Imperial County

(SACRAMENTO, CA)— Today, the Assembly Committee on Health cleared Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) legislation to address health disparities in rural, underserved areas.

Currently, six out of nine Californian regions face a dire primary care shortage. AB 893 would authorize The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to collect data from local public health agencies, physician groups, and professional and educational associations. This information will ascertain the number of graduate medical education slots necessary to meet the needs of medically underserved areas such as Imperial County.

Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District manages the hospital and is the main healthcare service provider for residents in Imperial County. A majority of that service area is comprised of Medi-Cal members. This leaves Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in an ill position to compete for physicians. Roughly estimated, there is one physician to every 9,000 residents within the county. 

“Half of all California residents live in a community without adequate access to healthcare services. These are unacceptable statistics, we must do more to alleviate health disparities in our rural and medically underserved communities,” emphasized Assemblymember Garcia. “AB 893 aims to ensure equity and assist the severe physician shortage that exists in Imperial County, where many residents live below the Federal Poverty Level. We hope that the data unveiled through this legislation will prompt further investments into areas of need, allowing all Californians to thrive.”    

“I commend Assemblymember Garcia’s leadership and legislative efforts to address health disparities in our community. For over 50 years, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District has worked to provide state of the art health services and programs in Imperial County with limited resources and physicians. AB 893, will help will us to better recruit, employ and most importantly retain physicians in this low income, rural area,” stated Larry Lewis, CEO of Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District.

The California Medical Association and the Association of California Healthcare Districts have come out in support of this bill.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) serves as the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.  He represents the 56th district, which comprises the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.