CHA News

Survey Spotlights Care Access Challenges Facing Central Valley Residents

What’s happening: The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) convened health care leaders and community organizations in Fresno on May 15 to discuss the results from the 2024 Central Valley Health Policy Survey.

What else to know: The survey gathered responses from more than 1,500 residents in five Central Valley counties on the challenges they face accessing health care in their communities.  

The Central Valley counties of Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare encompass an agriculturally rich region with a population of 1.8 million. Access to health care remains a significant issue in the Central Valley, particularly in behavioral health services and primary care. The region also faces challenges in attracting and retaining health care professionals. 

There were several key findings in the CHCF report, including a significant proportion of Central Valley residents reporting challenges accessing health care. Most residents think their community does not have enough health care providers. Among the 51% of Central Valley residents who tried to make an appointment for physical health care, half (50%) say they had to wait longer than reasonable. More than half of residents think their community does not have enough providers, especially mental health providers (56%). 

Panelists during the discussion mentioned the closure of Madera Community Hospital — the only hospital in Madera County — is severely impacting care at nearby hospitals and clinics.  

Many rural hospitals, including California’s 37 critical access hospitals (CAHs), are losing money every day to deliver care and maintain access. Senate Bill 1423 will create cost-based Medi-Cal reimbursement for CAHs. This proposed new payment methodology preserves access to care by enhancing financial sustainability for these most vulnerable hospitals. 

The survey was conducted by CHCF in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago.