California, like so many other states throughout the union, is facing a worker crisis within its health care sector. It’s not just health care workers — including nurses, physicians, and physician assistants — but also home care providers that could become problematic if funding falls short.
The California Future Health Workforce Commission recently released recommendations that might help to narrow the workforce gap in the state by 2030. Within that timeframe, it is anticipated that California will be short 4,100 primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. That doesn’t take into account the number of home care providers and visiting nurses that may be part of the shortfall.
In brief, it is a pending crisis facing the largest state in the country. Yet, this crisis is not isolated to just California; it is impacting states across the country.
The solution to the problem, according to the California Future Health Workforce Commission report, is funding. According to The Times of San Diego opinion blog, Opinion: A Shortage of Health Care Workers Is California’s Next Crisis written by Janet Napolitano and Lloyd Dean:
“The good news: After spending more than a year co-chairing the California Future Health Workforce Commission, we are confident this problem can be solved. The commission, consisting of 24 experts from the health, education and labor sectors, is recommending 10 priority actions to eliminate the shortage in primary care by 2030, while increasing the supply of home care workers and behavioral health providers in regions where demand is greatest.
Implementing these actions will require support and commitment from the state, private and public partners, foundations and many others.
Our strategy is as ambitious as it is urgent. The 10 priority actions entail a $3 billion investment over 10 years, adding approximately 47,000 additional health workers—more than 30,000 of them from underrepresented communities.”
Yet, funding can be problematic as states grapple with growing deficits and debts. Many home care agencies and other companies operating throughout the country are facing similar challenges.
While the federal government has been cutting Medicaid reimbursements, wage demands, increases, and greater protections for elderly and disabled clients are raising costs. That has left smaller, independent home care agencies scrambling or essentially giving up and either closing or selling to larger conglomerates.
It’s simple to claim the solution lies in more funding, but the problem remains from where that funding derives. Another economic crisis like the one in 2007 – 2008 would likely derail such optimistic plans as presented by the California Future Health Workforce Commission.
Home care is playing a more vital role in the health care industry, and as healthcare is finding out, when funding is short, a crisis tends to loom.