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LaMalfa Calls For Funding Extension On Medical Residency Program In Underserved Communities

Image of woman in hospital bed.
Parentingupstream via Pixabay

A bipartisan group of Representatives is calling on Congress this week to extend funding for a program that brings medical residents to rural health centers, including Shasta Community Health Center in Redding.

Known as the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, it brings medical students to complete their residencies in rural and underserved communities across the country.

But funding is set to expire at the end of the month, and for many, the federal money is critical.  

“For my program and many programs across the country, it is our main source of funding,” said Dr. Debbie Lupeika, who runs the program in Redding.  

Lupeika’s clinic serves mostly underinsured patients. Many are homeless. The teaching health center program brings around eight primary care residents to her clinic who each stay for three years.

“The thought process is: train doctors where the need is with the hope that they’ll stay there,” she said.

California Representative Doug LaMalfa is co-sponsoring the proposal to extend the program’s funding from two to four years.

The bill is awaiting a vote by the House of Representatives.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.