By Emily Bazar, CHCF Center for Health Reporting
In less than one year — Jan. 1, 2014 — Obamacare’s promise to bring health care to perhaps 1 million more poor California residents will be tested. That’s when Medi-Cal, the publicly funded health program for the poor and disabled, launches a huge statewide expansion.
But making a promise is one thing, and delivering is another.
In some places, it’s already tough for many poor California residents to find a doctor who is able –- or willing — to see them when they need one.
From the sprawling Los Angeles basin to the sparsely populated rural north, many medical providers who currently see these patients say they are overwhelmed, a situation that could worsen when those newly covered by Medi-Cal arrive for care.
The epicenter is California’s Central Valley, where high rates of uninsured residents, coupled with persistent doctor shortages, create a potentially combustible brew that could thwart the success of the health care law.
“We’re not even talking about 2014,” said Carmen Burgos of the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance program. Burgos helps low-income Kern County residents access health care and dental services. “Good luck finding a doctor who takes Medi-Cal now.” Continue reading