As of 2022, L.A. Care has distributed 108 PLRP awards to primary care physicians, with 96 current active awards. Of the providers receiving awards, 42% are licensed in family medicine, 32% in pediatric medicine, 18% in internal medicine, 6% in psychiatry, and 2% in obstetrics/gynecology.
The PLRP also supports improved care for Medi-Cal members, with 54% of awardees practicing in a Federally Qualified Health Center, 24% in a Los Angeles County Department of Health Services facility, 13% in a medical group, 2% in private practice, and 7% in a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health facility (where psychiatrists can serve Medi-Cal members in a co-located primary care setting).
Underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are well represented among the PLRP awardees. L.A. Care reports that the awardees are 16% Asian, 9% Black or African American, 28% White or Caucasian, 21% Hispanic or Latinx, 12% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 14% other. Gender representation is 65% female and 35% male. In addition, the languages spoken by PLRP providers (other than English) include: 43% Spanish, 5% Mandarin (Mandarin Chinese), 4% Armenian, 4% Cantonese (Yue Chinese), 4% Tagalog, 3% Farsi (Persian), 2% Korean, 1% Russian, 1% Arabic, and 19% other, including no response.
Of the 108 providers who have received PLRP awards, only 12 did not complete their three-year service commitment and 4 of them paid off their debt before the completing the commitment. Overall, L.A. Care has a nearly 89% retention rate for the PLRP cohorts.
This data demonstrates that the PLRP successfully recruits diverse providers and creates a competitive advantage to attract primary care physicians into safety net settings. L.A. Care’s approach serves as a model for intentional design and thorough implementation in efforts to advance workforce diversity and equity while also addressing clinician shortages.
As L.A. Care completes the last year of its five-year funding commitment, the organization has a clear plan in place for ensuring that the Provider Loan Repayment Program can continue supporting physicians who commit to practicing in safety net settings. In 2021, L.A. Care’s board of governors approved a new grant of $7.96 million to provide loan repayment awards to 30 to 60 new providers. The organization also plans to extend existing awards by an additional two years for up to 22 providers who completed their three-year service commitment yet have remaining educational debt. Moving forward, L.A. Care plans to sustain multi-year grants and contracts, identify alternative and matching funds that can strengthen the PLRP, and establish partnerships to expand support for their local safety net workforce for an additional five years, through 2027. To ensure the longevity of the program, L.A. Care is conducting an evaluation to assess the investments made to date, identify priority areas for funding to support DEI among the local physician workforce, and explore new opportunities to secure funding.
This strategic vision for financial sustainability is a critical component that maximizes the impact of the PLRP. With secured funding for loan repayment awards, L.A. Care can continue advancing workforce equity by building its network of diverse providers committed to practicing in safety net settings.