News Headlines Article

Strapped for doctors: California’s rural clinics backlogged with Medi-Cal influx
Sacramento Bee

Once a month, a sleek white bus outfitted with supplies from Western Sierra Medical Clinic rolls into Camptonville, a former miners’ town on the outskirts of Plumas National Forest. It passes a cluster of red barns that house every school classroom in town, as well as Burgee Dave’s at the Mayo, the only restaurant.

The bus pulls into the driveway of the Camptonville Community Center, a squat concrete building where typically several people already are waiting. For many, the bus is their only chance to receive prescriptions, have a nagging cough checked or receive other medical care. The next closest option is a small clinic in North San Juan, a town 13 miles down slow and windy Highway 49.

The rapid expansion since 2013 of Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance plan for low-income residents, has ushered in a bittersweet new reality for rural areas such as Camptonville, where many residents are older and sicker than their urban counterparts. The changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act mean thousands of rural residents who never had insurance are connecting with health care for the first time. But that newfound demand has only added to the wait times for urgent and routine care in rural communities that already were short of physicians and clinics.