CalHealthCares Awards $58.6M in Physician Loan Repayment

Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) committed to paying off $58.6 million in student loans for 247 physicians under a new program created to expand access to care for Medi-Cal patients.

Nearly 1,300 health care providers applied to the CalHealthCares loan repayment program, which has committed to paying up to $300,000 in student loan debt relief in exchange for meeting certain criteria such as maintaining a patient caseload of at least 30% Medi-Cal patients, being in good standing with state licensing boards, and other service time obligations. CalHealthCares has announced awardees, which includes 16 awardees in Alameda County and 6 awardees in Contra Costa County.

The program aims to increase access to care for low-income patients by creating economic incentives for physicians and dentists to provide care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

“The overwhelming response we received shows that providers are eager to serve communities that need more access to care,” said PHC CEO Lupe Alonzo-Diaz. “We want to thank all of the awardees for their commitment to bring quality health care to medically underserved communities.”

The awardees will be providing services to Medi-Cal patients in 39 counties throughout California. They represent 40 specialty areas of medicine including pediatrics, psychiatry, and OB/GYN. Additionally, the awardees vary in different practice settings including academic, community clinic or Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), government, group practice, hospital, and private practice.

A total of $340 million has been allocated to the CalHealthCares program from Proposition 56 revenue. The recent announcement of awardees is the first of at least five rounds of funding.

In 2018, SB 849 established the Proposition 56 Medi-Cal Physicians and Dentists Loan Repayment Act Program and appropriated $220 million for the loan assistance program for recently graduated physicians and dentists. An additional $120 million was added to the program in Governor Newsom’s revised 2019-20 budget.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) administers the CalHealthCares program, with PHC contracted to manage daily activities.