Menu Close

In 2002 the Mexico Pilot Program, was established in California by AB 1045. It was designed to bring physicians and dentists from Mexico with rural experience, who speak the language, understand the culture, and know how to apply this knowledge in serving the large Latino communities in rural areas who have limited or no access to primary health care services.

Proponents of the measure were concerned about addressing primary care physician and dentist shortages while maintaining a high quality of care.

The bill authorized up to 30 licensed physicians specializing in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology and up to 30 licensed dentists from Mexico to practice medicine or dentistry in California for up to three years, and required the individuals to meet certain requirements related to training and education.

The bill specified that any funding necessary for the implementation of the program, including the evaluation and oversight functions, was to be secured from nonprofit philanthropic entities and further stated that implementation of the program could not move forward unless appropriate funding was secured from nonprofit philanthropic entities.

The Medical Board of California (MBC) received the necessary philanthropic funding in 2018 to initiate the program and began taking the necessary steps for implementation. As of April 2019, MBC began accepting applications for the Mexico Pilot Program. MBC received the required funding commitments necessary for program implementation in December 2020. MBC reports that as of September 2022, MBC had issued 21 licenses to qualified Mexico Pilot Program applicants.

The Board anticipates approving a cohort of eight additional applicants (for a total of 30, the maximum under the law) in spring 2023.

Mexico Pilot Program physicians are authorized to practice in the following MBC-approved community health clinics: Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas in Monterey County; San Benito Health Foundation in San Benito County; Altura Centers for Health in Tulare County and; AltaMed Health Services Corporation.

In August 2022, the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD) at the University of California, Davis released its first annual progress report of the Mexico Pilot Program.

The Medical Board of California and the Dental Board of California requires a licensee, at the time of issuance of a license, to provide specified federal taxpayer information, including the applicant’s social security number or individual taxpayer identification number. The licensing board is prohibited from processing an application for an initial license unless the applicant provides that information where requested on the application.

Governor Newsom has signed A.B. 1395 into law. For purposes of the Pilot Program, the boards are now authorized to issue a 3-year nonrenewable license to an applicant who has not provided an individual taxpayer identification number or social security number if the applicant meets specified conditions. The applicant would be required to immediately seek an appropriate 3-year visa and social security number from the federal government within 14 days of being issued the medical license and immediately provide the medical board with their social security number within 10 days of issuance of that card by the federal government. The bill would prohibit the applicant from engaging in the practice of medicine until the board determines that these conditions have been met.

There was no opposition to this new law shown in the Legislative History.