New tobacco tax revenues will fund 156 slots for physician residencies statewide SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) today announced that more than $38 million in new state tobacco tax revenues has been awarded to graduate medical education (GME) programs across the state to fund 156 slots for physician residencies. The first “CalMedForce” grants will help address the state’s physician shortage, particularly in underserved communities where patients often lack access to timely and quality health care. This first round of funding includes awards to 73 separate GME programs located in hospitals, medical centers and community clinics to offer residencies to 156 recent medical school graduates. Under California state law, a physician must complete a minimum of three years of supervised residency before practicing independently. A shortage of available residency slots has contributed to a bottleneck of medical student graduates and exacerbated the state’s physician shortage. Funding for this new GME program comes from Proposition 56, the $2-per-pack tax on tobacco products approved by California voters in 2016. “These CalMedForce grants will help California grow and strengthen the physician pipeline to meet the demands of our state’s growing and changing patient population,” said Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, MPAff, PHC president and CEO. “This investment will improve access to care and increase timely access to a physician for patients in underserved communities.” The 73 programs that received awards in this cycle represent 156 residency slots in both urban and rural areas. Programs that focus on medically-underserved areas and populations were given priority. While the $38 million in grants will serve as a down payment on increasing graduate medical education, the available funds did not meet demand for these residency slots. In its first award cycle, CalMedForce received 131 applications totaling more than $147 million in requests to support 594 residents. “The demand for these funds is a clear indicator of the statewide need for this funding and an example of how the new tobacco tax will help improve access to care in California,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D, Associate Vice President for Health Sciences in the UC Office of the President. “This is an important step in providing better access to care by training more California physicians for future careers in areas of unmet need. We look forward to announcing future grants in years to come.” About the CalMedForce Program Under Proposition 56, the University of California (UC) received $40 million to support a statewide graduate medical education program. UC has contracted with PHC to administer the annual $40 million in grants. PHC gathered feedback from various stakeholders as it developed the program processes and award criteria. This included surveying the GME directors of primary care and emergency medicine residency programs in October 2018. The survey gathered information on potential opportunities and challenges in sustaining, retaining and expanding their residency programs. The PHC Advisory Council took great lengths to validate the application, eligibility criteria and scoring criteria aligned with the statute. For more information about the CalMedForce program, visit PHCdocs.org/programs/CalMedForce .