$60 million help doctors pay off medical school debt if they see more Medi-Cal patients

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jul 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-27 23:40:59-04

The state of California will be paying close to $60 million in student loans for 247 California physicians, with the trade off being those doctors will see more Medi-Cal patients.

Those doctors agreeing to dedicate 30 percent of their case load to seeing Medi-Cal patients for the next five years.

Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. Rena Stathacopoulos said that while getting your medical school debt paid by the state is a great incentive for new doctors to see more Medi-Cal patients… she is doubtful about the initiatives effectiveness in smaller communities, especially when it comes to seeing specialists.

“Specialists are only needed in small, limited numbers and so county clinics are probably not going to hire those specialist,” said Stathacopoulos. “I think it is probably a very good fix for primary care and dental… but I think that where it is going to miss is specialty care and I think patients are still going to have trouble accessing those very specialized doctors when they have something really wrong.”

Nancy Hoyt is a Medi-Cal Recipient and said her family has struggled in finding physicians who take California’s Medicaid program known as Medi-Cal, something that has driven them to seek medical attention and services beyond SLO county.

“It has taken us to Santa Barbara… it has taken us all the way down to UCLA.. we had to take my daughter to Fresno to Madera to get anywhere decent that accepts the insurance,” said Hoyt.

Stathacopoulos said she sees this initiative as a part of the solution to the bigger problem the state is currently facing when it comes to Medi-Cal but hopes to see more comprehensive solutions for both patients and providers.