Elevating the Safety Net - Frequently Asked Questions
Learn the whys and hows about Elevating the Safety Net, one of L.A. Care's largest investments.
Elevating the Safety Net is a long-term initiative to recruit high-quality physicians into the Los Angeles County safety net. The L.A. Care Board of Governors has committed up to $31 million toward the effort.
The safety net includes health care providers who by mandate or mission offer access to care regardless of a patient's ability to pay — and whose patient population includes a substantial share of uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients.
California is experiencing a growing physician shortage that poses a severe risk to patient care. The initiative is aligned with our mission of supporting the safety net and ensuring access to high-quality care for our members, who are among the most vulnerable in L.A. County.
- A University of California San Francisco study projects a shortfall of 8,800 primary care physicians in California by 2030, just 12 years from now.
- Shortages are already especially acute in low-income communities. For instance, Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital currently reports a shortfall of 500 primary care physicians and 700 specialists.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 60 primary care doctors for every 100,000 people, with 80 being preferable, to ensure high quality care. Right now, Los Angeles County has only 56 primary care physicians per 100,000 people.
More primary care physicians mean better access for L.A. Care members and other community members. Each new recruit under Elevating the Safety Net could potentially treat up to 2,000 new patients per year.
- The Provider Recruitment Program will provide salary subsidies, sign-on bonuses, and/or relocation costs up to $125,000 to recruit highly-qualified and seasoned physicians to the safety net.
- The Physician Loan Repayment Program will provide loan repayments for physicians recruited into the safety net in year one. Physicians will receive up to $5,000 per month for 36 months, with an opportunity to extend for an additional two years.
- The L.A. Care Elevating the Safety Net Scholarship Program will provide eight medical school scholarships: four to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and four to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
- Contracted providers in L.A. Care's Medi-Cal network who provide primary health services to Medi-Cal patients and other vulnerable populations will be eligible for salary subsidies, sign-on bonuses and/or relocation coasts up to $125,000. We anticipate this will benefit up to 25 clinics and practices in year one.
- Primary care physicians recruited into the safety net will be eligible to apply for the loan repayment (up to $5,000 per month for 36 months, with an opportunity to extend for an additional two years) that will be administered by an outside nonprofit. We anticipate up to 25 physicians will benefit from this program in year one.
- The scholarship students are chosen by the schools based both on financial need and the student’s expressed desire to work in underserved and vulnerable communities.
We have not set a specific goal, but we are hoping to do at least as well as the Inland Empire Health Plan did with a similar project.
In 2014, the health plan allocated $31 million to its Network Expansion Fund and to date, it has attracted almost 200 new physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice in the Inland Empire.
Recruitment of highly-qualified, seasoned physicians will benefit members, both now and in the future, and is in full alignment with our mission and purpose.
No, this is a serious long-term problem that is going to require action by the wider healthcare industry, but it is a critical first step for L.A. Care and its members.