State funding proposal for UC Riverside Medical School clears committee

RIVERSIDE — An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill to secure $15 million in annual state funding for the UC Riverside School of Medicine cleared its first legislative hurdle today.

AB 27, sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, was approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee and is now bound for the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

”Today’s approval to fully fund the school of medicine … is the first step towards ensuring the Inland Empire region receives access to affordable and basic health care,” Medina said. ”This bill would allow students to study medicine in our community and continue on to practice and serve the needs of our region.”

The university’s inaugural class of 50 medical students will begin courses this fall. More than 2,400 applied.

”Financial support for the medical school is the single best use for funding from the state,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, dean of the UCR School of Medicine. ”The school will create doctors for the future, and it will also serve as an immediate positive impact on the economy of the region.”

An Assembly analysis of Medina’s bill noted that the preferred ratio of doctors to patients is 80 per 100,000 in any region. The Inland Empire has about 40 per 100,000.

Much of the school’s start-up funding has come from philanthropic and other non-state sources, though the county committed $20 million over the last two years.

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