Health

Costa’s push for Valley medical school gets key backing on Capitol Hill

Congressman Jim Costa’s (D–Fresno) push to have a public medical school open in the Central Valley picked up momentum Monday with a key endorsement. 

Costa announced that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus fully endorsed his bill, the Expanding Medical Education Act, which would provide $1 billion for medical school construction, expansion and training in underserved communities. 

“Access to quality healthcare for underserved communities where there is an acute shortage of doctors needs immediate attention,” Costa said in a statement. 

There is a catch with the endorsement, however. Instead of putting the bill to a vote, the caucus is pushing House leadership to include the bill in President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure plan. 

The caucus sent a letter to House leadership saying rural communities will continue to suffer from a lack of quality medical care without immediate action. 

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is proud to endorse the Expanding Medical Education Act,” said caucus chair Raul Ruiz (D–Palm Desert). 

“Physician shortages are most pronounced in underserved communities and can negatively impact the long-term health and quality of health care for vulnerable populations. The Expanding Medical Education Act would directly address the needs of underserved and Hispanic communities and alleviate health disparities. I thank Congressman Jim Costa for his leadership in addressing the critical need for more physicians.” 

Costa’s office said the bill will give priority to schools that focus on diverse and medically deprived communities, such as UCSF Fresno and UC Merced. 

Several organizations have also endorsed the bill, including the American Association of Medical Colleges, the California Hospital Association, the University of California, the University of California, San Francisco and the California Medical Association. 

“I thank the CHC for recognizing the need for significant investment in medical schools that will train doctors who want to serve rural communities and for urging leadership to include this bill in the President’s infrastructure package,” Costa said.

“For 40 years I have supported building a medical school in the Valley, and I will keep fighting until we make it happen.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.