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Cannella bill aims to lessen physician shortage in Valley
UC merced pic1
UC Merced may soon have its own medical school on campus, if SB 841 is passed. - photo by Photo Contributed



Aiming to expand much-needed healthcare resources within the San Joaquin Valley, Senator Anthony Cannella’s (R-Ceres) new legislation introduced last week, SB 841, looks to accelerate the planning process of launching a new medical school at University of California Merced.

Receiving bipartisan support from coauthors Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), Cannella’s legislation would train additional physicians throughout the region.

“Everyone deserves equal access to healthcare. Unfortunately, some areas are woefully underserved. The San Joaquin Valley is disproportionately affected by California’s physician shortage with access to healthcare 31 percent lower than the rest of the state,” said Cannella. “SB 841 will seek to end this disparity by strengthening existing UC medical programs that provide healthcare services to Valley residents while accelerating the effort for a UC Merced medical school.”

Currently, the UC operates the innovative San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education – a program designed to attract and retain physicians in the Valley. Cannella’s bill will provide the program increased, ongoing funding to help double its current enrollment. Additionally, the bill is set to fund a two-year planning effort to establish a new medical school located at the UC Merced campus.

Senator Galgiani says that more than ever, the four million people in the Valley communities need more doctors and healthcare professionals.

“We need medical students from the Valley, to train in the Valley, for the purpose of serving the Valley’s medical needs,” said Galgiani. “We have been working on the UC Merced medical school project for nearly a decade and it is time to move forward.”

Assemblymember Gray also stressed the Valley’s need for increased physicians and improved healthcare accessibility.

“Receiving adequate healthcare shouldn’t be based upon what part of the state you live in,” said Gray. “Increasing access to quality healthcare starts with educating more doctors here in the Valley. Improving our healthcare infrastructure is priority number one.”