May 16, 2019

Applications for First Round of CalHealthCares Student Loan Repayment Program Show Overwhelming Provider Desire to Serve Medi-Cal Beneficiaries


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The first round of applications for the new CalHealthCares statewide loan repayment program attracted more than 1,200 applications from physicians and dentists who agreed to see more of California’s 13 million Medi-Cal patients in exchange for repayment of their student loans.

In all, requests totaled more than $300 million, reflecting tremendous interest in the five-year program, which launched this year. The 2019 awards will be announced by June 30.


“The response to this program has been overwhelming,” said Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, president and CEO of Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC). “This shows that California’s physicians and dentists are ready to step up and improve care for low-income patients and in underserved communities across the state.”


Individual awardees are eligible to receive as much as $300,000 to repay educational debt incurred in pursuit of a medical or dental degree. The program was made possible by Proposition 56, the 2016 tobacco tax measure that provided a one-time allocation of $220 million for state loan repayment for providers who treat low-income patients. That money will be awarded over the next five years. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised 2019-20 budget proposes an additional $120 million for loan repayments.


The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) oversees the program and has contracted with PHC to administer the application and award process.


“The enormous interest in this program means we will be able to repay loans for providers who are truly committed to Medi-Cal, including in specialties and areas of California that will benefit most from that commitment,” said DHCS Director Jennifer Kent. “This will help to introduce the next generation of providers to Medi-Cal and make it easier for hundreds of thousands of patients to receive the quality care they need and deserve.”


The awards create economic incentives for physicians and dentists to commit to serving a substantial number of Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Many providers, coping with huge educational debt, say they can’t afford to serve large numbers of Medi-Cal patients. By reducing or removing student debt, CalHealthCares removes an obstacle from the path of physicians and dentists who are eager to practice in medically underserved areas and serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

Awardees must agree to a patient mix that includes at least 30% Medi-Cal patients over five years.

Awardees must:

  • Have an unrestricted license and be in good standing with their licensing board
  • Be an active enrolled Medi-Cal provider without suspensions, disbarments or revocations; or have submitted an application to DHCS to become a Medi-Cal provider
  • Have graduated from a physician residency program and/or completed a fellowship within the past five years (on or after January 1, 2014)
  • Have an existing educational loan debt incurred while pursuing a medical or dental degree
  • Not currently be participating in another loan repayment program
  • Practice in California
  • If awarded, providers must maintain a patient caseload of 30% or more Medi-Cal beneficiaries



For more information, please visit


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February 6, 2019

Physicians for a Healthy California Awards $38 Million in Grants to Expand Residency Programs in CA

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

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December 20, 2018

A message from the PHC President and CEO: Looking ahead to 2019

I am honored and pleased to join Physicians for a Health California as its President and CEO. Following a rebranded name and image that is more descriptive of our mission and focus, PHC has reinvigorated its commitment to its three priorities of community health, health equity and diversifying the physician workforce. As I look ahead to 2019, we will largely focus on strengthening our leadership in workforce development – by administering the Proposition 56-funded Graduate Medical Education (GME) and Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) – and focus on internal organizational development priorities. Regarding our internal priorities, PHC is welcoming a few more board members, developing its 2020-2022 Strategic Action Plan and working with CMA to reinvigorate the Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations (NEPO).

The recent November elections and federal actions are a reminder that our work is not over. Issues like community health, health disparities, and access to care continue to challenge our most underserved communities. Our physicians stand ready to lead in this regard. I look forward to working with you towards a healthier California.

Lupe Alonzo-Diaz
President and CEO

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December 20, 2018

Donate to PHC and take advantage of a year-end tax deduction

Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) invites you to join our mission to improve the health of all Californians. Since 1963, we have improved community and individual health by providing a vital link between physicians and their communities.

We have launched ground-breaking efforts such as tobacco education in the mid 1990s and public education programs to increase diversity in clinical trials. Most recently, we have launched unprecedented health workforce development programs to address physician shortages. By partnering with the University of California and the California Department of Health Care Services, we are launching the $40 million Graduate Medical Education grants program and the $220 million loan repayment program for physicians and dentists.

By donating to PHC, you will can take advantage of a year-end donation! PHC does not receive funding from dues and is largely dependent on the generosity of our donors to continue the important work we do. Every dollar of your donation will help support critical initiatives like funding medical student grants, the Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations (NEPO) and rebuild physician communities impacted by the wildfires. Our medical student grants support the next generation of physicians. NEPO mobilizes more than 53 ethnic physician organizations across to the state to support physician-led efforts to address health disparities in underserved communities. With the recent wildfires in Butte County, we are taking the lead in helping those physician communities rebuild so that they in turn may continue providing invaluable public and medical health services to impacted communities.

Please visit or call (916) 551-2566 to make a donation today. Let’s build a healthier California…together.

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December 13, 2018

PHC announces new CalMedForce GME grant program; Application now open

The fiscal year 2018-19 budget via Proposition 56 includes an allocation of $40 million from Proposition 56 to the University of California to sustain, retain, and expand California residency positions in primary care and emergency medicine. PHC will be administering the program on behalf of the University of California and will focus its efforts on supporting graduate medical education (GME). PHC is partnering with a five-member Executive Board and 15-member Advisory Council to develop a program that incentivizes and supports expanding graduate medical education. PHC plans to release the application December 12, 2018 and make funding decisions in January 2019. We encourage all eligible residency training programs to apply! Eligible residency training programs may receive support for upwards of five residency positions totaling $1.125 million per program. We look forward to receiving your application. PHC will be conducting webinars to orient applicants. Click here for more information and to sign up for our email list.

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December 12, 2018

PHC awards new medical student grants

Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) is pleased to continue its long-standing tradition of funding medical students’ initiatives to support community health. More specifically, our Medical Student Community Leadership Grant Program funds medical student initiatives to support health-related educational, advocacy, community service and outreach programs. Organizations can receive up to $1,000 to support these efforts.

This year, we are pleased to announce that we are funding the following initiatives:

  • Pop-Up Clinic at San Bernardino Health Fair in which UC Riverside medical students will expand the reach of the San Bernardino Free Clinic – a clinic that has served primary care services for underserved patients – by creating an ancillary pop-up clinic at the San Bernardino Health Fair in January 2019.
  • Medical Excellence in Phlebotomy in which California Northstate University (CNU) will train medical students in drawing blood at the student-run Clinica Tepati so as to optimize patient visit time in the clinic and enhance the patient experience.
  • Kid’s Health Day at California Northstate University plan will provide hands-on exposure to the field of medicine and encourage elementary, middle school, and high school students in pre-health pipeline programs to pursue a career in medicine.
  • Peer Educators at a Teaching Kitchen housed at the UC Irvine Family Health Center will teach UC Irvine School medical students to provide practical nutrition training for patients with chronic disease.
  • Women’s Health Fair in which UC Davis medical students will expand the mobile mammography clinic at Knight’s Landing to offer mammography services at a community women’s health fair.

Please consider donating to PHC so that we can continue to support medical students as the learn their trade, gain leadership skills and engage in community-benefit activities.

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December 10, 2018

Pfizer and NORCAL donate generously to PHC’s wildfire relief campaign

As you know, the California wildfires of Camp, Woolsey and Hill have destroyed thousands of homes, structures and medical practices, as well as displaced thousands of Californians.

In response, the California Medical Association (CMA) and Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) launched a donations initiative to support impacted physicians and their families.

"The full impact of the wildfires' destruction is yet to be seen, but the physician community needs our help," said CMA President David H. Aizuss, M.D. "Physicians provide an invaluable service to their patients and neighbors so when they're displaced or their medical practices are destroyed, it creates a negative ripple effect throughout the entire community.

We appreciate the generous support of Pfizer who has donated $100,000 and will match employee contributions to support physicians as they rebuild their communities. NORCAL has also donated $20,000 to ensure communities continue to have access to care. Please consider donating to our efforts to support impacted physicians. Click here for more information.

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December 1, 2018

PHC continues to educate patients and providers about appropriate antibiotic use

Physicians for a Healthy California’s Alliance Working for Antibiotic Resistance Education (AWARE) continues to lead in efforts to increase provider and patient education about appropriate antibiotic use. AWARE is focused on reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics and reduce the prevalence of antibiotic resistance bacteria. With the flu season in full swing, provider and patient education continues to be a critical mission.

With generous support from the California Department of Public Health, PHC will continue to partner with health plans and physician groups to identify high prescribers of antibiotics, provide targeted education and send provider toolkits. For more information, please click here

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November 29, 2018

PHC to administer $220M loan repayment program

Proposition 56 also provides a one-time allocation of $220 million for state loan repayment programs to incentivize providers to increase their Medi-Cal patient population. Of the $220 million, $190 million is for physicians and $30 million is for dentists. PHC will be administering the program on behalf of the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Currently, DHCS is accepting public comments on the proposed criteria. Eligible physicians and dentists may receive up to $300,000 in loan repayments in exchange for a five-year service obligation. PHC is working with DHCS leaders to finalize the details of the program. It is expected that the loan repayment application will be released in the Spring 2019. Please visit our website at for more information and to sign up for our email list.

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November 20, 2018

PHC conducting study on female physician wellness

With the generous support of The Physicians Foundation, PHC is conducting a research study on physician well-being focused on diverse female physicians. To that end, PHC has received more than 800 responses from diverse female physicians to our electronic survey! Further, our focus groups in Stockton, Oakland, Riverside and Los Angeles gathered additional information from diverse women physicians regarding physician burnout and stress. We will be publishing an article in Spring 2019 detailing our findings. It is our hope that these findings will be instrumental in supporting physicians and in particular, diverse female physicians. Let’s take care of those that give their lives endlessly to helping others.

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