June Update – Highlights:
- Upcoming webinar series: Stay tuned for more information about the Commission’s upcoming webinar series, The Changing Landscape of the Future of California’s Health Workforce Under COVID-19, which will be launching in July and running through this fall. In place of our postponed in-person convening, this new series will bring together diverse health experts from across the state to discuss how health workforce needs and priorities have shifted during the pandemic—on issues ranging from scope of practice flexibilities for select professions to solutions for bolstering our public health workforce. We hope you’ll join us to identify needed policy solutions to address continued workforce gaps. More details coming soon!
- State budget impacts on Commission priorities: With the Governor and Legislature continuing to negotiate a final 2020-21 state budget, several major new health workforce investments from last year’s budget are hanging in the balance.
- Legislative progress on health workforce: The Legislature is considering a range of health workforce policy changes during this year’s abridged legislative session—including updates to rules governing scope of practice, telehealth, and the workforce pipeline.
- Workforce Education and Training (WET) Programs: Applications are open through August 1, 2020 for the next round of WET funding, which includes $18 million for programs that boost the supply of psychiatrists and public mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) trained to work in the local public mental health system (PMHS).
State budget impacts on Commission priorities
Governor Newsom and legislative leaders are continuing to negotiate over a new spending plan that will be severely impacted by the state’s $54 billion budget shortfall—leaving several of the Commission’s top priority programs hanging in the balance.
Last year’s budget included more than $300 million in new investments aimed at closing California’s growing health workforce gaps—with 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.
Faced with a daunting budget shortfall, the Governor has proposed scaling back some of these investments—eliminating last year’s $33.3 million in funding for the Song-Brown Healthcare Workforce Training Program and $297.8 million in Proposition 56 funds for the physician and dentist loan repayment program.
The Legislature rejected these cuts in the budget approved on June 15, with members noting the importance of maintaining health care spending that will help communities respond to the COVID-19 emergency. With negotiations continuing over the budget—and with revenue estimates likely to be updated again in mid-July when taxes are collected—the future of these programs remains uncertain.
Legislative progress on health workforce
The Legislature continues to advance legislation in three key priority areas identified by the Commission: expanding scope of practice in key specialties, promoting telehealth, and bolstering the state’s workforce pipeline. This year’s active health workforce bills as of this writing include the following:
Scope of practice
- AB 890 (Wood): Authorizes a nurse practitioner (NP) to provide specified services without physician supervision if the NP meets additional education, examination, and training requirements
- SB 1237 (Dodd): Authorizes a certified nurse-midwife to attend cases of normal pregnancy and childbirth and provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care
- AB 2164 (Rivas): Permits a federally qualified health center or rural health clinic to use telehealth
- AB 2360 (Maienschein): Requires health care service plans and health insurers to establish a telehealth consultation program that provides providers who treat children and pregnant and postpartum persons with access to a psychiatrist
- AB 2478 (Carrillo) Requires the board to conduct a study relating to expanding the existing pool of international medical graduates
- AB 3224 (Rodriguez) Requires the Department of Public Health to contract with an entity to conduct an evaluation of the adequacy of local health department infrastructure and make recommendations on workforce needs and resources
- SB 803 (Beale) Requires the Department of Health Services to establish a program for certifying peer support specialists
Workforce Education and Training Programs
While some workforce programs are facing cuts, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) is now accepting applications for $18 million in funding through the Psychiatric Education Capacity Expansion (PECE) grant program—a statewide effort to increase the supply of psychiatrists and PMHNPs in the local public mental health system. These new grants accompany a $40 million regional partnership grant opportunity for workforce education and training earlier this year. Both programs were funded in the 2019-20 budget. The deadline for applications for the PECE program is August 1, 2020. For more information on the program, please click here.