Sacramento – AB 2024 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) was signed by the Governor. Recruiting physicians to practice in rural communities is a significant challenge. Only 16 of California’s 58 counties have enough primary care physicians. As a result, only one-third of Californians live in a community where they have adequate access to health care. Adequately staffing these hospitals is absolutely necessary for the health of its residents and the viability of the community. This bill will allow federally certified “critical access hospitals” – hospitals with less than 25 beds and typically located in remote, rural areas – to employ physicians and bill for those services, a practice currently prohibited in California. Current law does not allow the employment of physicians, with only a few exceptions. “Preserving the conventional mode of practice is short-sighted,” said Wood. “Other states have shown that the sky will not fall and hiring physicians who want to practice as an employee has been mutually beneficial, especially in rural areas where operating a private practice may not be financially feasible.” “I introduced AB 2024 because people in rural California deserve access to health care. Creating a pathway and incentive for physicians to practice in these communities is a great first step,” said Wood, “and we are very pleased that the Governor recognizes this challenge in rural communities.