SACRAMENTO – State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) today announced that additional funding for UC Merced’s proposed medical school was approved with a unanimous vote of 5-0 by the Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee. The budget item will add $1 million to the University of California budget to continue development of a medical school at UC Merced.
“I have made it a priority to gain additional funding for a medical school at UC Merced. I am very pleased that the Budget Conference Committee has included additional funding through the UC budget to support a new medical school with the support of both the Senate and Assembly,” stated Senator Cannella. “There is a desperate need for additional healthcare in the Valley. Developing a medical school at UC Merced will help ensure health options for residents of the San Joaquin Valley and address the statewide shortage of physicians.”
The San Joaquin Valley has 48 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, well below the recommended level of 60 to 80. Physicians in the Valley are being spread increasingly thin by the expanded health care coverage of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the shortage will be increased in the near future as 30% of California’s physicians are near retirement age. The UC Merced program is designed to evolve into a stand-alone medical school, expanding the university and increasing the number of physicians available to serve California and the Valley. Currently, physicians who completed and are currently enrolled in the medical program at UC Merced have formed lasting relationships with the communities, clinics, and hospitals of the San Joaquin Valley. These physicians will be equipped to serve the needs unique to Valley residents.
The need for additional funding for healthcare and the efforts by Senator Cannella to accomplish this were recognized by other members of the committee.
“The medical needs of the valley are unique and vast. Senator Cannella has long tried to achieve this accomplishment, as well as many others, and it is certainly appropriate to continue this trend,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R – Gerber).
“Access to higher education, particularly medical education, is critical throughout California especially in underserved communities,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens). “I commend my colleague, Senator Cannella, for championing this critical effort that would bring much needed resources not only to UC Merced but also surrounding communities.”
The deadline to pass the budget is June 15. Improving health care options for Valley residents is a primary concern for Senator Cannella. In this budget item, and previously in Senate Bill 841 (2014) and SB 131 (2015), Cannella has demonstrated a continued commitment to addressing the San Joaquin Valley’s shortage of primary care physicians.