Bills Would Address Expected Doctor Shortage

 A Democratic lawmaker is proposing a package of bills to address an expected doctor shortage as California prepares to insure millions of new patients under federal health care reforms.

Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina said Wednesday that his three bills would expand services that can be provided by nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists.

Hernandez, who is an optometrist, said California has a shortage of doctors who serve rural areas and inner cities.

His bills would allow nurse practitioners to see Medicaid and Medicare patients even if the doctors they work with do not. Optometrists could check for high blood pressure, while pharmacists could order laboratory testing to detect diabetes.

The California Medical Association says more medical schools and residency slots are needed.

The bills are SB491, SB492 and SB493.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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