Expert commission led by UC President and Dignity Health CEO releases plan to eliminate California’s primary care provider shortage by 2030

Contact: Mike Roth, (916) 813-1554

Bold Recommendations Will Bolster Pipeline to Address Workforce Shortages and Help California Tackle Access and Care Challenges


SACRAMENTO – The California Future Health Workforce Commission — co-chaired by University of California President Janet Napolitano and Dignity Health CEO and President Lloyd Dean — announced a bold set of recommendations today to eliminate the projected shortfall of health providers the state is expected to face in the field of primary care by 2030. These recommendations would also nearly eliminate what is projected to be a severe psychiatry shortage and bolster the pipeline of students and health workers who seek to provide care in underserved communities.

Read the Commission report here:

The Commission is calling on state, regional and local leaders to advance 10 priority actions the team of 24 experts has outlined that are needed to build and support the robust and diverse health workforce required to meet the growing demands to provide health care for California’s diverse population. These recommendations come in light of findings by the Commission that California will face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care clinicians and will only have two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs in the next decade.

Health workforce shortages are already hitting rural areas and many communities of color particularly hard: It’s estimated that seven million Californians, the majority of them Latino, African American, and Native American, live in Health Professional Shortage Areas — a federal designation for counties experiencing shortfalls of primary care, dental care, or mental health care providers. Communities of color will also make up the majority of Californians by 2030, but they remain severely underrepresented in the health workforce.

The Commission’s report identifies opportunities to strengthen the supply, distribution, and diversity of workers in primary care, behavioral health, care for older adults, and other emerging areas of need. This includes accelerating training of primary care clinicians and behavioral health providers, expanding college pipeline programs to bring more low-income and underrepresented minority professionals into the health workforce, increasing medical school enrollment and expanding the number of primary care and psychiatric residencies.

“California is leading the nation by expanding access to care and working to make coverage more affordable, but we need to address the shortages of primary care providers and other essential health workers if we want these efforts to succeed long-term,” said Lloyd Dean, a Commission Co-Chair and Dignity Health CEO and President. “The Commission is confident that health care workforce shortages can be solved in the next 10 years, but leaders across California must start planning on how to address the shortfalls now.”

The Commission’s 10 priority actions are expected to:

  • Eliminate the state’s primary care shortage and nearly eliminate the psychiatry shortage by 2030
  • Increase the number of health workers by over 47,000 people
  • Improve diversity in the health professions, producing approximately 30,000 workers from underrepresented communities
  • Train over 14,500 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, including over 3,000 underrepresented minority providers
  • Increase the supply of health professionals who come from and train in rural and other underserved communities
  • Expand health outreach and prevention role of community health workers, promotores and peer providers – workers who have some of the most trusted relationships in a community

Implementation will require a $3 billion investment over a 10-year period — for perspective, that is less than 1% of what Californians are projected to spend across the health care system in 2019 alone. Support will be needed from the state, local private and public partners, foundations and many others.

“Building pipeline programs with many statewide partners to bring more low-income and underrepresented minority students into health professions has been a long-standing priority for the University of California, and the Commission’s goal to expand these efforts with additional collaboration from many entities will mean California can achieve a workforce that better reflects the great diversity of our state,” said Janet Napolitano, a Commission Co-Chair and the University of California President.

The Commission’s report comes on the heels of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/California Health Care Foundation poll that found a strong majority (75%) of Californians believe it should be a priority for the Governor and legislature to make sure there are enough health care providers in the state. One in three Californians say their community does not have enough primary care providers to meet the needs of local residents, and more than half of Californians say their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet the needs of local residents.

“In shortage areas, what patients say over and over is that they face long wait times, travel long distances to see specialists or can’t find a doctor in their area who understands their needs. Bottom line: we need more workers to meet this demand,” said Dr. Rishi Manchanda, a Commissioner and President of HealthBegins. “Our Commission’s recommendations really are about ensuring that no matter where a patient lives, he or she can receive quality care and preventive services from a trusted team of health workers in their own community.”

Health care represents 12.6% of the state’s GDP and employment in the health care sector provides jobs for 1.4 million Californians — meaning training, building and supporting the next generation of health care workers represents an economic imperative.

“The Commission recognizes the urgency, scale, and complexity of California’s health care system and workforce needs. We also recognize that by starting to address the shortages of workers now, we can affect how millions of Californians access care and the quality of care they receive, especially in areas such as the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, San Joaquin Valley and many rural areas that have severe shortages,” said Heather Young, a Commissioner, and Founding Dean Emerita with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

Read the Commission report here:

About the California Future Health Workforce Commission
The Commission was co-chaired by Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, which operates the largest health sciences education and training system in the nation and is a major health provider, and Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the state’s largest health systems and health employers. The 24 commissioners included prominent health, policy, workforce development, and education leaders in the state.