Commissioners hail “New Era” for health workforce after Governor signs budget investing $300 million to bolster workforce pipeline

New funding in 2019-20 Budget Advances Major Recommendations from the California Future Health Workforce Commission to Address Growing Gaps In Health Workforce

SACRAMENTO, CA — Members of the California Future Health Workforce Commission cheered Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing today of the 2019-20 state budget, which includes $300 million in new funding to address an often overlooked threat to the state’s health system: a growing shortfall of trained health workers.

As California’s population ages and demographics shift, the state is projected to face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care clinicians and 600,000 homecare workers by 2030—and will have only two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs. Though the state has made great strides in improving health coverage, provider shortages are impacting regions from the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles, and seven million Californians currently live in federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.

The California Future Health Workforce Commission was formed in 2017 to address this issue, bringing together a blue-ribbon panel of 24 experts from across the health system to study the health workforce challenge and craft solutions. The Commission’s final report, released in February, offered a detailed set of recommendations for recruiting, training, and deploying a new wave of health workers over the next 10 years, especially those coming from and committed to working in underserved communities.

The newly-signed 2019-20 budget advances many top Commission priorities—including new funding to bolster residency programs, improve primary care education and training in areas of unmet need, and implement a five-year plan for expanding the pipeline of mental health providers. There is new backing for expansions of medical school facilities at UC-Riverside and UC-Merced—two major potential sources of primary care physicians in parts of the state that need them most. The budget also boosts the Medi-Cal loan repayment program by $120 million, increasing the current workforce’s ability to provide care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

Members of the Commission hailed the budget as the beginning of “a new era” for California’s health workforce, congratulating Gov. Newsom and the Legislature for making health workforce a priority and laying a foundation for the years of ongoing public and private commitments that will be needed to ensure every community can offer the health care Californians depend on.

Joseph Castro, PhD, MPP
President, California State University, Fresno
Commissioner, Primary Care and Prevention Sub-Committee Member, California Future Health Workforce Commission
“The Commission has given the state a framework for addressing its health workforce issues—and highlighted the specific pipeline programs that work. It’s encouraging to see the Governor and Legislature advancing so many of these ideas, from recruiting talented new students and providing scholarships to supporting doctors, nurse practitioners, home-care workers and community health workers—all are vital members of the diverse teams we need to care for everyone in our communities.”

Patrick Courneya, MD
Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Kaiser Permanente
Commissioner, Behavioral Health Sub-Committee Member, California Future Health Workforce Commission
“As a physician I have seen up close what happens when people don’t have access to coordinated care. We know adequate access to care is dependent upon having a robust pipeline of professionals who are dedicated to bringing their expertise and passion to work each and every day. In California and elsewhere in this country, we must dramatically increase the number of qualified health professionals who reflect the populations we serve. The new California budget puts us on the right track with significant investment in mental health workforce development. At Kaiser Permanente, we’re committed to supporting the ongoing public and private initiatives that will be needed to close these gaps in the years to come.”

Hector Flores, MD
Chair, Department of Family Medicine
White Memorial Medical Center
Commissioner, Co-chair of Primary Care and Prevention Sub-Committee, California Future Health Workforce Commission
“Gov. Newsom has said he wants to be known as California’s ‘health care governor,’ and today he showed he means it—pairing high-profile initiatives to expand access to care, improve quality of care, and bring costs down with proposals to grow the state’s health workforce, improve behavioral health care, and prepare the health system to care for an aging population. These are the same priorities identified by the California Future Health Workforce Commission, and we applaud the Governor and Legislature for launching what we hope will be a new era for health workforce programs in California.”

Elizabeth Gibboney
Partnership HealthPlan of California
Commissioner, Co-chair of Behavioral Health Sub-Committee, California Future Health Workforce Commission
“Too many people who need medical treatment in California don’t get it—especially in rural and underserved areas, where many Californians don’t have access to a qualified health professional, either because the closest doctor is hours away or because they have to wait months to get the care they need. The Commission highlighted workforce issues as one of the most important challenges facing California’s health system today, and with the passage of this new state budget, it’s clear the Governor and Legislature see this problem and are committed to solving it. This is a huge step forward for our state—and it can help us down the road toward building the health workforce we need to provide care to every community in California.”


Contact: Mike Roth, 916-444-7170,