Ken Carlson

Local physician training program could benefit from federal funding

The Senate passed a Medicare payment reform bill that renews some funding for six primary care residencies in California, including the physician training program at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

House Resolution 2, titled the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act, is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for community health centers and physician training programs was scheduled to expire this year, but the bill renews some of it. HR 2 also continues to provide for repayment of student loans for doctors who work in underserved areas such as the San Joaquin Valley.

The three-year Valley Family Medicine Residency in Modesto was able to train up to 36 residents after receiving $11 million in Teaching Health Centers funding through the Affordable Care Act. Without renewal of the funds, the residency program would have shrunk to 30 residents next year.

Dr. Peter Broderick, who oversees the residency, said the bill includes $60 million for primary care residencies for two years. It isn’t clear how funds will be allotted to the six teaching centers in California, he said.

Without any additional money, the program was planning for an incoming class of nine residents in July. Program leaders will see if they can budget for a larger first-year class.

Dr. Del Morris, a program faculty member, said one or two additional residents would make a difference. A doctor who completes the training and stays in town will provide care for many thousands of patients over a 40-year career.


FIRE TAX ON AGENDA

In what’s being called an emergency special election, the district proposes a $27 increase in the annual tax for fire protection and emergency services. The fire department is asking for more revenue because its station is in poor condition. In addition, there is need for an exhaust removal system and fire apparatus, says a resolution approved by the district board last month.

Burbank Paradise protects two areas of west Modesto and territory south of the Tuolumne River bounded by Carpenter Road and West Whitmore Avenue.

If voters give approval, the special tax would be $75 for homeowners, $100 for rental homes and $150 for commercial property. The levy could increase by 1 percent each year starting in 2019.

The district is asking the county registrar of voters to conduct a mail election. The tax would require two-thirds approval.

Voters in the district agreed to a $36 residential property tax in 1990 and also have paid a $12 levy for fire service. The ballot measure could erase those levies from the tax bill and establish a single tax of $75.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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